Firozabad Rail Disaster

A collision between two trains in northern India kills 358 people on this day in 1995.

It was the worst train accident in the country’s history, eclipsing a deadly 1981 accident. Both of the killer crashes involved cows. Due to the special significance of the cow in the Hindu religion, the animals are permitted to roam freely throughout India; occasionally, this can cause serious problems. The rail disaster on this day in 1995 at Firozabad was partially caused by a cow, but was also a result of problems with India’s rail system.

Travel by train in India is extremely cheap by international standards--people can travel hundreds of miles for only a few dollars. Of course, this means that the unreserved coach cars are overcrowded, the trains are tightly scheduled and safety procedures are not always followed faithfully.

New Delhi - At least 300 people died yesterday and 400 were reported injured when a passenger train near Firozabad, northern India, rammed another train that had stopped suddenly after hitting a cow.

Rescuers were finding bodies in the twisted debris of the carriages and expected the toll to rise further.

Nearly 20 hours after the accident, railway officials said more than 200 bodies were recovered, and hospitals said at least 60 people had died of their injuries, the Press Trust of India reported.

The Firozabad rail disaster occurred on August 20, 1995 on the near Firozabad on the Delhi-Kanpur section of India's Northern Railway, at 02:55 when a passenger train ran into a train which had stopped after hitting a cow, killing 358 (although some sources put the death toll at over 400). The accident happened in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh; both trains were bound for the Indian capital, Delhi. The first train, the "Kalindi Express" from Kanpur struck a cow but was unable to proceed as its brakes were damaged. It was then struck from behind at a speed of 70 mph by the "Purushottam Express" from Puri. Three carrages of the Kanpur express were destroyed, the engine and front two carriages of the Puri train were derailed. Most of the 2200 passengers aboard the two trains were asleep at the time of the accident.