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Fresh hope for families of soldiers in Indian prison

There is fresh hope for the families of six former soldiers serving a prison sentence in India, to have them released, following a visit by the Foreign Minister in Tamil Nadu.

Three Yorkshiremen were among the crew onboard a ship - providing protection to commercial ships on the Indian coast - when they were arrested for carrying weapons.

Earlier this year - more than two years after their initial arrest - they were jailed. Their families continue to battle to get them back home.

Helen Steel reports.

Prime Minister raises detained soldier's case with Indian counterpart

Six former soldiers being held in India have been told that David Cameron raised their case with the country's Prime Minister during his state visit to England last week.

Simpson and Towers have been held in India for over two years Credit: ITV News

Nicholas Simpson from Cottingham and Paul Towers from Pocklington have been prevented from leaving India for more than two years, after they were arrested on illegal weapons charges when the ship they were working on strayed into Indian waters.

Their trial is due to restart later this week.

Relatives of rail tragedy victims travel to India

Derailed train Credit: Credit: Twitter/@AdityaSinhmar

Relatives of the two people who died in the Indian train tragedy are travelling to the country where they will be helped by counsellors and staff from the tour company.

Loraine Toner, who was 60 and from Sheffield, died along with 71-year-old Joan Nichols from South Shields when the train they were on derailed. Two people, including the tour manager from York-based Great Rail Journeys remain in hospital, both in a stable condition.

The company says the majority of its passengers have now continued with their tour, with some now already in Shimla and others joining them there later today.

They are accompanied by a Senior Manager from Great Rail Journeys’ head office and a Tour Manager who will travel with the group to Delhi, where they will join our most senior Tour Manager for India who is currently travelling to meet them. The relatives of the deceased have arrived or are en route. We continue to be grateful for FCO assistance on the ground with myriad complex issues and with their kindness to all concerned. Our counsellor remains present in Chandigarh and a further counsellor will arrive in Delhi tomorrow morning. Our offer of counselling will remain open for as long as it proves necessary. We continue to monitor the situation closely from our York offices, and our absolute focus is to assist the families of those involved as much as possible.

– Peter Liney, Chief Executive Officer, Great Rail Journeys


Sheffield woman killed in India train derailment

A woman from Sheffield has been named as one of two women killed in a train crash in India. She was sixty year old Loraine Tonner who lived in the Millhouses area of the city. Chris Kiddey reports.

Indian rail crash claims Sheffield victim

A woman from Sheffield has today been named as one of the two Britons who died in a train crash in north India

Two Britons, including a woman from Sheffield, have been killed in a crash

Loraine Toner and a pensioner from South Shields were killed in the accident yesterday afternoon.

The train was travelling from Kalka to the Indian Himalayan town of Shimla when nine carriages came off the track at around 1pm local time on Saturday.

Passengers were travelling on a four-carriage tourist service chartered by Great Rail Journeys.

Chief executive officer Peter Liney said 36 passengers and one tour manager were on the train.

A number of victims were taken to a local hospital, where three people are still being treated for non life-threatening injuries, he added.

"The remaining passengers are safe in the hotel in Chandigarh and are awaiting the arrival of Great Rail Journeys' emergency response team, led by our director Julian Appleyard and accompanied by an expert counsellor.

"The team will offer any support and help necessary to those passengers who are there.

"On site there continues to be a team of our representative's local staff who are there to give whatever aid and assistance they can.

"We would like to express our very sincere thanks for the enormous support the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has provided over the last 24 hours and, indeed, for the assistance given by the Indian Consular offices in the UK in fast-tracking the emergency visa applications we have required.

"The families of those who were fatally injured have been informed.

"We are working with the FCO to assist their relatives in travelling to India as soon as possible."

– Peter Liney, Great Rail Journeys Chief Executive

"I am deeply saddened that two British nationals have been killed and many others injured in a train accident in northern India.

"My thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time.

"Teams from the British High Commission in New Delhi and Deputy High Commission in Chandigarh are on their way to the area to help all those affected."

– Hugo Swire, Minister for Asia

The cause of the derailment is not yet known.

The tour, India's Golden Triangle, left for India on September 10 and was due to finish on September 22.

Yorkshire " pirate hunters" in Indian court today

Three men from East Yorkshire being held in India for alleged weapons offences are due to appear in court today.

The men on their release from prison in June 2014

Ray Tindall from Hull, Nicholas Simpson from Cottingham and Paul Towers from Pocklington, were arrested along with three other former British soldiers on suspicion of smuggling weapons as they worked onboard a ship providing protection from pirates in October 2013.

The charges were eventually dropped last year .

However they were informed on July 1st that a police appeal against them had been successful and that they would face a full trial in southern India.

The six British men were originally taken into custody after what they thought was a routine paperwork check aboard their security vessel Seaman Guard Ohio. Police seized 35 automatic weapons and nearly 5,700 rounds of ammunition from the ship.

The men had been working for AdvanFort, a private security company providing protection to ships in the area.

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