NEW DELHI (AP) – A train in India on Friday plowed through a group of migrant workers who fell asleep on the tracks after walking back home from a coronavirus lockdown, killing 15, the Railways Ministry said.
The driver of the cargo train tried but failed to stop in time, the ministry tweeted. The accident occurred around 5:30 a.m. in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state.
Survivors said the group had moved from the road to the tracks. “After walking for about 36 kilometers (22 miles), they became tiresome and sat on and near the track for taking some rest and gradually got into deep sleep,” the ministry said in a statement.
Fourteen people on the track were killed on the spot and one died in a hospital, the ministry said. Two were injured.
Another three who were sitting away from the track escaped unhurt, it said.
The Press Trust of India news agency said the workers were walking to their home state of Madhya Pradesh in central India after they lost jobs when the country went into a strict lockdown on March 25. Most public transportation was halted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was anguished by the loss of lives in the accident and he promised assistance to hundreds of thousands of workers stranded across the country.
Early this week the government started running trains to carry stranded workers to their home states. But a lack of trains led many to walk back.