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2 Trains Derail In India, Killing At Least 24; Floodwaters Blamed

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Two passenger trains lay next to each other in India after they derailed Tuesday night. The accident is being blamed on flash floods outside the town of Harda in Madhya Pradesh state.

In a span of minutes, two passenger trains traveling in opposite directions derailed in central India on Tuesday night, sending them into the mud along a riverbank. At least 24 people died; officials say that tracks near the river had been flooded by monsoon rains.

Images from the scene show the trains' cars and engines resting at odd angles near the bridge, with the tracks lying twisted and curved in the mud. More than 300 people survived the crashes, according to multiple reports.

The derailments occurred close to midnight in Madhya Pradesh; one train had been heading west to Mumbai and the other east to Varanasi.

"Railway Chairman AK Mittal said a flash flood caved the tracks as the soil shifted," broadcaster NDTV reports. "Even 10 minutes before the accident, he said, the tracks were intact and many trains had passed safely."

The reported death toll in the accident has been rising; officials say rescue efforts were complicated by the darkness and the heavy rains that have hit the area.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.