The passenger train was about midway through a 27-hour journey between the cities of Indore and Patna when it slid off the tracks at 3:10 a.m. Sunday, jolting awake passengers who had settled in to sleep.
The impact was so strong that one of the coaches landed on top of another, crushing the one below. Passengers said they heard the crash as they were flung from their beds.
“There was a loud sound like an earthquake. I fell from my berth and a lot of luggage fell over me,” Ramchandra Tewari, who suffered a head injury, said from his hospital bed in the city of Kanpur. “I thought I was dead, and then I passed out.”
Rescue workers, soldiers and members of India’s disaster management force worked through the night to pull out people trapped amid the twisted metal and overturned coaches near Pukhrayan, a village outside the industrial city of Kanpur about 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of New Delhi.
Rescuers used cutting torches to pry open cars and cranes to lift coaches from the tracks, moving carefully to prevent any cars from toppling over and injuring those trapped inside.