Indian railways minister offers to step down after major train tragedy claims 23 lives

India: At least 23 dead and over 100 injured after huge train derailmentReuters

India's Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has offered to resign after a major train tragedy killed at least 23 people and left more than 150 injured. He said he takes moral responsibility for the train derailment and hinted that he is willing to step down. However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked him to wait.

As many as 13 carriages of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express came off the tracks on Saturday (19 August) near the town of Khatauli in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The impact of the derailment was such that one of the carriages crashed into a house in a railway colony next to the tracks.

In a series of tweets from his official account, Prabhu said on Wednesday (23 August) that he had devoted his "blood and sweat" for improving the railways' services since he took charge nearly three years ago. He added that he was "deeply anguished" by the incident and offered condolences to the victims and their families.

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"I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish," tweeted Prabhu.

Incidentally, there was another train derailment on Wednesday, again in Uttar Pradesh, due to which at least 20 people were injured.

"Under the leadership of PM, tried 2 overcome decades of neglect thru systemic reforms in all areas leading 2 unprecedented investment & milestones," Prabhu continued.

His resignation offer comes shortly after Railway Board Chairman AK Mittal said that he will step down.

There have been many accidents involving Indian trains over the years. Official figures show over 580 train accidents, more than half of them derailments, have taken place in the past five years.

With millions of passengers relying heavily on railways, the world's fourth-largest network, the service is struggling to deal with poor maintenance, low investments and over-crowding.

One of the worst accidents occurred in November 2016 in which more than 150 people died.

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The latest derailment was the fourth major train accident in the past one year.

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