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At least 29 passengers, including 11 women and five children, were killed and 25 others injured when several coaches of two trains, one heading to Mumbai and another to Varanasi, derailed over a railway bridge in Harda district and plunged into the swollen Machak river.

Over 250 passengers have been rescued, a railway official said.

“Twenty nine bodies, including those of 13 men, 11 women and five children, have been recovered so far from the mishap site between Khirkiya and Harda, about 160 km from Bhopal,” Madhya Pradesh government spokesman Anupam Rajan told PTI, adding that the toll could further go up.

Rescue work in progress at the site where Kamayani Express and Janata express trains derailed within minutes of each other while crossing a small bridge in Harda district of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, August 5, 2015. PTI Photo

However, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Bhopal, Alok Kumar, said, “11 passengers of Janata Express and one from Kamayani Express were found dead. About rest, we are not sure whether they were villagers or some other persons.”

Though the state government said that 21 coaches of the two trains derailed, the DRM said seven bogies of the Janata Express plus engine and 10 of Kamayani Express derailed.

Damaged coaches of passenger trains are pictured after they derailed near Harda in Madhya Pradesh, August 5, 2015. Reuters

According to Central Railway PRO Piyush Mathur, seven coaches of Kamayani Express, heading from Mumbai to Varanasi, and three bogies plus the engine of the Rajendra Nagar-Mumbai Janata Express derailed at 11 pm on Tuesday night.

“Nearly 25 passengers suffered injuries,” he said.

Making a suo motu statement on the incident in Parliament, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said track washout due to a swollen Machak river led to the derailment of the two trains.

Damaged coaches of passenger trains are pictured after they derailed near Harda in Madhya Pradesh, August 5, 2015. Reuters Photo

Commissioner of Railway Safety (central zone) will conduct an inquiry into the accidents, Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said.

He said though prime facie flash floods led to the derailment of the two trains, the real cause will be ascertained after submission of the inquiry report.

The official said just eight minutes before the accident, two trains had crossed that section and their drivers did not detect any problem.

The chief minister of India's Madhya Pradesh state, Shivraj Singh Chouhan (C, in blue) walks after inspecting the site of train accident near Harda in Madhya Pradesh, August 5, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the loss of lives in the twin train accident and said authorities are doing everything possible on the ground.

PM Narendra Modi expressed his grief over his tweets:

An accident relief train has reached the spot and several passengers have been brought to nearby Harda station.

Rescue work in progress at the site where Kamayani Express and Janta express trains derailed within minutes of each other while crossing a small bridge in Harda district of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, August 5, 2015. PTI Photo

The Railway Ministry has ordered an inquiry into the twin derailment and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased, Rs. 50,000 to grievously injured and Rs. 25,000 to those who sustained minor injuries.

In view of the twin train accident, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has cancelled his scheduled tour to Ujjain and rushed to the accident site.

Wreckage of Kamayani Express and Janata Express trains which derailed within minutes of each other while crossing a small bridge at Harda in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, August 5, 2015. PTI Photo

The Chief Minister has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs. two lakh each to the kin of the deceased passengers, Rs. 50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs. 10,000 to those who suffered minor injuries in the accident, he added.

Helpline source: DNA

Feature image source: PTI