India: More than 50 killed as train hits crowd in Amritsar

India: More than 50 killed as train hits crowd in Amritsar

Amritsar (Agencies) - At least 60 people have been killed and dozens others injured when a train mowed down Hindu devotees as they took part in religious festivities near a railway crossing in western India.

Police in Amritsar, Punjab state, said that the victims were celebrating the Dusshera festival on Friday by burning an effigy of the demon Ravan and setting off firecrackers next to the railway tracks.

They did not hear the train approach due to the loud noises.

The incident took place at around 7pm local time, as the Ravan Dahan ceremony is held after sunset.

Relatives of victims were blocking police and emergency teams from removing bodies as a form of protest against local authorities, whom they blamed for the tragedy.

The area was scattered with severed heads and limbs, while the recovery of corpses continued more than two hours after the accident.

"Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar. The tragedy is heart-wrenching," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

"My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly. Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required."

Following the accident, people rushed to the site, nearly 470km north of New Delhi, and shouted at railway officials for not taking precautions.

The chief minister of Punjab, Capt. Amarinder Singh, said that his government would provide free treatment to the injured at both public and private hospitals.