India train crash kills at least eight and leaves dozens injured

Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express. Credit: AP

At least eight people are dead and dozens more are injured after a cargo train collided with a passenger train in eastern India.

A major emergency response has been ordered by top officials after the Kanchenjunga Express was struck by a freight train.

Disaster teams, doctors and ambulances rushed to the site of the crash, which is nestled in the Himalayan foothills.

Three of those killed in the crash were railway personnel and more than 50 people have been taken to hospital, according to Sabyasachi De, spokesperson for Northeast Frontier Railway.

Doctors, disaster-response teams and ambulances are at the site of Monday's accident. Credit: AP

The cargo train's driver, who has been found among the dead, disregarded a signal and caused the collision, De added.

Four compartments at the rear of the passenger train had derailed due to the impact, he said, adding most of the cars were carrying cargo while one was a passenger coach.

Pictures from the scene show at least one train car on its side, parts of it crushed, and another car rising into the air at an angle above an engine carriage.

De said workers were in the process of restoring the damaged tracks and removing the derailed coaches. The rest of the coaches continued to their original destination of Kolkata, the state's capital, he added.

More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India daily, travelling on 64,000 kilometres (40,000 miles) of track. Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents happen annually, with most blamed on human error or outdated signaling equipment.

Last year, a train crash in eastern India killed over 280 people in one of the country's deadliest accidents in decades.

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