The victims were standing on the railway tracks watching celebrations for the Hindu festival of Dusshera, eyewitnesses told BBC Punjabi. The bursting of the crackers from the effigy had reportedly drowned out the noise of the approaching train.
Initial reports suggest Dussera revellers were watching the burning of a Ravan close to the track.
They didn't see the train coming, which failed to stop after the accident, said the politician, Pratap Singh Bajwa. Amritsar Police Commissioner SS Srivastava said on Amritsar train accident.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is on his way to Amritsar. "Railways is conducting immediate relief and rescue operations", Goyal tweeted from the United States, where he had gone to attend an event.
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"The tragedy is heart-wrenching". The incident took place at Joda Fatak level crossing where Dusshera celebrations were underway. "My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly".
His wife Navjot Kaur Singh was the Chief Guest at the Dussehra where the incident occurred at around 7 p.m. Several others, who got injured, were rushed to nearby hospitals.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet he was "extremely saddened" by the accident and that he had asked officials to provide "immediate assistance". "I spoke to home secretary of Punjab and DGP of the state regarding the train accident in Amritsar", Singh said on Twitter. Severed bodies, including of many children, were still lying on the accident site hours after the incident with angry people not allowing authorities to remove them. "They are rushing to the spot".