Fourteen migrants killed by train in India
Fourteen migrant labourers walking back to their villages after being left destitute by India's strict coronavirus lockdown were killed Friday after being hit by a train, officials said. The men were returning home when they were hit by the goods train in the western state of Maharashtra, police official S.S. Sutale told AFP.
They were among millions of migrant workers who have been left unemployed, officials said, after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a national lockdown in March, sparking an exodus from major cities.
Hours after the incident, the Indian rail ministry tweeted that the train driver braked after seeing the men, but was unable to stop in time. Three others were injured and taken to hospital, the ministry said, announcing an inquiry.
State police official Vaibhav Kalumbarme said officers were investigating the accident as there were strict guidelines to prevent migrants accessing the railway tracks from stations. "But it is impossible to monitor every inch of the tracks when they take shortcuts," Kalumbarme told AFP.
Although states announced special trains to return migrant labourers, many continue to walk long distances to reach their villages. Local media reported some provinces were charging for the rail tickets, which most can't afford.
The return home has proved deadly for several workers ever since the lockdown started. A study conducted by the non-profit SaveLIFE Foundation said 140 killed in car crashes across the country -– with at least 42 of them were migrant labourers travelling home. "We have been running campaigns cautioning people not to walk on tracks and we are doing everything we can urgently to get them back to their families. This is a tragic incident," Kalumbarme added.