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At least 32 dead in India train derailment

At least 32 people were killed and 50 others injured after a passenger train derailed in southern India, railway officials said Sunday.

7 coaches of the Hirakand Express were thrown off the track Saturday night

In this image from video, rescuers stand around coaches of a derailed passenger train in Kuneru, Andhra Pradesh, southern India, on Sunday. (KK Production via Associated Press)

At least 32 people were killed and 50 others injured after a passenger train derailed in southern India, railway officials said Sunday.

Seven coaches of the Hirakand Express were thrown off the tracks shortly before midnight Saturday, some landing on a goods train that was on a parallel track, said Divisional Railway manager Chandralekha Mukherji.

Rescue workers were trying to cut open the mangled coaches Sunday morning near the Kuneru railway station in the Vizianagram district of Andhra Pradesh state. The train was traveling between Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh state to Bhuvaneshawar in Orissa.

An investigation is underway.

History of deadly train accidents 

In November, 146 people were killed when a packed passenger train derailed near the town of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh in the deadliest rail accident in the country in at least five years.

India's railway system is the world's third largest, but is severely hampered by a lack of modern signaling and communication systems as well as poor maintenance of tracks and equipment. Manual signaling is still used at several places, raising the risk of human error.

Rescuers climb a coach of a derailed passenger train in Kuneru. India's railway system is the world's third largest, but is severely hampered by a lack of modern signaling and communication systems. (KK Production via Associated Press)

According to a government report in 2012, about 15,000 people are killed every year in train accidents. The worst occurred in 1981, when a train fell into the Baghmati River in northern India, killing nearly 800 people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged last year to invest $137 billion over the next five years to modernize the railway network, which is used by about 23 million passengers a day.

On Sunday, Modi tweeted his condolences for those killed in the most recent accident and said that the railway ministry was monitoring the situation closely.

Seven coaches were thrown off the tracks before midnight Saturday after a Hirakand Express train derailed. (KK Production via Associated Press)