BHUBANESWAR, India (AFP) — At least 15 people were killed and 150 injured Friday when 12 carriages of a passenger train derailed in eastern India, a railway spokesman and reports said, with the toll expected to rise.
The high-speed Coromandel Express, connecting the eastern metropolis of Kolkata and the southern city of Madras, jumped tracks at Jajpur, 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Orissa's state capital Bhubaneswar.
"We have 15 people dead," the spokesman for eastern railways, Murlidhar Sahoo, told AFP.
Many passengers were trapped in the derailed carriages raising fears of the casualty numbers rising, he said.
It was not immediately known why the train jumped the tracks.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency quoted eyewitnesses at the accident site as saying some carriages were badly smashed and the train had been travelling at high speed when it derailed.
"It was very dark and I could hear the shouts of many for help. There was utter chaos," survivor Anupam Nayak was quoted as saying.
"We were fortunate as several coaches including the one adjacent to ours not only derailed but overturned," he said.
Many passengers were seen trying to climb out of windows of the overturned coaches, he added.
PTI said 150 people had been injured, quoting Director General of Police Manmohan Praharaj.
The accident came on a day when federal railways minister Lalu Yadav took credit for turning round the giant state-run transport network, which was once headed for bankruptcy.
The railway system -- still the main form of long-distance travel in India despite fierce competition from new private airlines -- runs 14,000 passenger and freight trains and carries 18.5 million people daily.
There are 300 accidents on the railways in India every year.
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