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At least seven people were killed in eastern India on Monday after a passenger train collided with a goods convoy in West Bengal state, police said.

“We have confirmation of seven deaths and 39 passengers admitted to a hospital with injuries,” local police officer Iftikar-Ul-Hassan told AFP.

Images broadcast by Indian media show the tangled wreckage of wagons overturned on their sides, with one propelled skyward, precariously balanced on top of another.

Police said emergency workers were searching the cars twisted and deformed by the violence of the impact to ensure that no other bodies were trapped inside.

“We have just seen the bodies of a driver and a guard who died… their bodies have been taken out,” Rajesh Kumar Singh of the Railway Protection Force told AFP.

“Other bodies could be at the accident site, but we are not sure yet,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to “those who lost their loved ones”, in a message on social media, adding that “relief operations are underway”.

The chief minister of this state located in eastern India, Mamata Banerjee, described the accident as “tragic” in a message published on social networks.

– Highest railway bridge in the world –
“Doctors, ambulances and rescue teams were dispatched to the scene,” Ms. Banerjee wrote on social media, calling the accident “tragic” but without providing an assessment.

The accident occurred at Phansidewa in Darjeeling district when the Kanchenjunga Express train was hit by a goods train.

Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the “injured are being shifted to hospital.”

India, which has one of the world's largest railway networks, has seen a large number of deadly train accidents in its history.

The safety of this network, used every day by millions of passengers, has however improved in recent years thanks to investments to modernize it by equipping it with modern stations and electronic signaling systems.

The deadliest accident in the country's history remains that of June 6, 1981 when, in the state of Bihar (east), seven wagons from a train crossing a bridge fell into the Bagmati River, causing between 800 and 1,000 deaths.

In June last year, nearly 300 people died in a collision between three trains in the eastern state of Odisha.

On Sunday, a train crossed for the first time the world's highest railway bridge – 359 meters above a river – in a Himalayan region of India, the railway minister announced.

This metal structure, which spans the Chenab River, connects parts of northern Jammu and Kashmir state, a Muslim-majority territory administered by India, to the rest of the country.

Work on this railway has been underway for almost 30 years and the official opening of this link is planned in the coming weeks.

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