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Mass Cremation Planned For Victims of India’s Worst Train Wreck

August 22, 1995

FIROZABAD, India (AP) _ People in this city gathered wood today to cremate many of the 128 unidentified victims of India’s worst train accident as mourners claimed the bodies of 220 others for private funeral services.

``We can’t keep the bodies any longer. We are in the midst of a populated area, and there is a threat of disease spreading,″ said Ashok Tamta, the superintendent of police.

Firozabad, the city closes to the site of Sunday’s train accident, doesn’t have a morgue, and officials weren’t able to get enough ice from neighboring towns to preserve the 348 bodies.

Bloated corpses were still lined up outside a hospital and in a park near a government building today. Officials were waiting for one more train from the neighboring state of Bihar to see if more relatives or friends of the dead would arrive.

Hindus, the majority in India, cremate their dead, while Muslims prefer burial. Officials have identified all circumcised males as Muslims and said they would be buried.

The others will be lined up in fields on individual piles of wood and cremated later today.

Police were still searching for a signalman blamed for sending the Purshottam Express crashing into the Kalindi Express in northern India early Sunday.

The signalman, who vanished after the disaster, had given the Purshottam a green light, even though the Kalindi had stopped after hitting a cow and damaging its brakes, officials for India’s state-owned railway said.

A few soldiers continued to search through the wreckage of the trains, even after it had been cleared away from the tracks and the line reopened to traffic.

A quarter of the 2,200 passengers on the two trains were injured. Most of the passengers were sleeping when the collision occurred at 2:45 a.m. Both trains were bound for New Delhi, 185 miles north of Firozabad.

The death toll was the highest in the Indian railroad’s 142-year history. In 1981, 270 people were killed when a train plunged into a river.

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