FATEHPUR, India (AP) — Rescuers searched for survivors in the wreckage of a packed express train that derailed in northern India on Sunday afternoon, killing at least 31 people, while officials said a second train derailment hundreds of miles (kilometers) to the northeast appeared to have been caused by a remote-controlled bomb.
Rescuers were working to reach the second derailment, which occurred late Sunday night in a rural area of Assam state, injuring at least 100. The two railway incidents did not appear to be related.
In the first crash, the Kalka Mail train was on its way to Kalka, in the foothills of the Himalayas, from Howrah, a station near Kolkata in eastern India, when 12 coaches and the engine jumped the tracks at Malwan station, near the town of Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh state, senior railway official A.K. Jain said.
The cause of the derailment was not immediately clear but it appeared that the driver applied the emergency brakes, Jain said.
At least 31 people were killed and rescue workers pulled at least 100 injured passengers out of the wreckage, said Brij Lal, a state police official.
Hours later, the second train derailed in the northeastern state of Assam, injuring at least 100 people, said S.K. Roy, a local magistrate.
Local police suspect that a remote control-triggered bomb caused four coaches of the Gauhati-Puri Express to be thrown off the tracks in the town of Rangiya, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of the state's capital, Gauhati, Roy said.
S. Hajong, a local railways spokesman, said two of the four coaches plunged into a pond and casualties are feared.
Roy did not blame any rebel group and no one has taken responsibility for the attack so far. More than 30 groups in northeastern India have been fighting for decades for independence or wide autonomy in the region, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) east of New Delhi.
It was the third train accident in India in the last four days. A train hit a bus at an unmanned railway crossing last Thursday, killing 35 people.
In Fatehpur, the accident site was a pile of twisted metal. At least one coach flew above the roof of another ahead of it and was dangling precariously, television footage showed. Another coach was thrown away from the rest of the train.
The toll was likely to rise as rescuers made their way through the coaches and used gas cutters to cut through the mangled metal, Lal said. Rescue efforts continued late into the night.
"We're trying to cut into the coaches and rescue those still trapped inside," Lal said.
A senior railway official, H.C. Joshi, told CNN-IBN news channel that rescuers were struggling to free at least five people pinned under the wreckage of one of the worst-damaged coaches.
Medical personnel rushed to the area, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.
Army helicopters were ferrying the most seriously injured victims to hospitals and 30 army engineers had joined the rescue efforts, Lal said.
TV stations showed local residents helping injured passengers away from the train, several in makeshift stretchers, and breaking the windows of coaches to help those trapped inside.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed "deep sorrow and shock" at the loss of lives. The Railways Ministry announced compensation of 500,000 rupees ($11,000) for the families of those killed in the accident.
The number of passengers on board the Kalka Mail — named for its past use in the postal service — was not known. Express trains normally carry about 1,000 people and travel at speeds of 60-80 miles (100-130 kilometers) per hour.
India's railroad network is one of the largest in the world and carries about 14 million passengers a day. Accidents are common, with most blamed on poor maintenance and human error.
Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow contributed to this story.