Passenger train derails in India, killing at least 23

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At least 23 people were killed and 81 others injured after a passenger train derailed in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, governmental officials said.

The express train from Puri to Haridwar derailed near the city of Khatauli, Uttar Pradesh Police said in a statement. "Rescue and relief operations are continuing", G S Priyadarshi, a civil official at the accident site, told AFP.

A senior police officer in the state, Anand Kumar, said close to 20 people had been killed and more than 80 injured.

At least five railcars went off the tracks, according to Railways spokesman Anil Saxena, leaving emergency workers and private citizens to pull people out of mangled, upended carriages.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the train derailment.

"I am personally monitoring the situation".

"We have mobilized all our resources to provide the best relief and rescue operations at this time", Saxena said on Indian television.

The Indian government in 2015 announced an investment of over 137 billion USA dollars over a period of five years to boost railways and modernise it on new lines.

Train accidents are common in India, where more than 22 million passengers use the rail system daily.

According to a government report of 2012, almost 15,000 people die every year in railway accidents, a heavy balance sheet termed a "massacre" by the authors of the survey.

In the past year 146 people died in a similar disaster in Uttar Pradesh.

In June, Reuters reported that a planned $15bn safety overhaul of India's rail network faced delays as the state steel company could not meet demand for new rails.

What caused the train to come off the tracks is not yet known.

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