The victims had gathered near a level crossing to watch celebrations for Dussehra, a Hindu festival.
Railway officials told The Times of India the victims had spilled onto the tracks to get a good view of a burning effigy of the demon Ravana – a traditional of the annual gala.
Image: The train could not be heard approaching due to the sound of firecrackers. Pic:
The train was travelling from Jalandhar to the city in Punjab state, with TV channel Times Now reporting that those struck were unable to hear it approach due to the overbearing sound of firecrackers being let off.
The state police commissioner said 58 bodies have been recovered, but there could be more to come.
Image: People had gathered near the tracks to watch a burning effigy. Pic:
The speeding train did not stop following the accident, which also saw at least 60 people taken to hospital.
It happened at about 7pm local time (2.30pm UK time) and a number of rail services were cancelled afterwards.
Image: Scores of people had gathered near the tracks
Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who earlier in the day attended a Dussehra celebration in Delhi, confirmed that families of the victims would receive “financial relief” from the government.
He also tweeted: “Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar.
“The tragedy is heart-wrenching. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly.”
Image: Those in attendance criticised railway officials in the aftermath of the accident
Piyush Goyal, the country‘s railways minister, said “immediate relief and rescue operations” were under way.
In the aftermath, crowds rushed to the scene and lambasted railway officials for not taking further precautions in view of the festival.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the tragedy was 'heart-wrenching'
The shocking scenes, which were captured by mobile phones and posted on social media, are the latest in an increasingly long line of accidents to beset the country‘s creaking rail network, which dates back to the colonial era.
In February, after they were hit by a train travelling from Guwahati to Silchar, about 110 miles away from its departure station in the state of Assam.
Another five were killed in December when they were hit by a train in the same state, with 60 thought to having died on the tracks in the whole of 2017 – and 110 the year before that.
Last November, 13 coaches of an express train derailed in the north of the country, killing three people and leaving another nine with injuries.
And in the same month in 2016, a similar disaster near Pukhrayan, a town outside Kanpur, .