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Two Britons killed as tourist train derails in Himachal Pradesh

Kalka (Himachal Pradesh): Two British tourists have died and eight others were injured after a train derailed in northern India. The train, which had been chartered by Great Rail Journeys, had 37 Britons on board and crashed after leaving the northern hill town of Kalka, in Himachal Pradesh state.

Three carriages left the tracks as it rounded a bend on the Kalka-Shimla UNESCO Heritage Track. Two women, both British holidaymakers, died instantly. They have not been named by authorities. Operator Northern Railways said eight passengers were injured - two seriously. They were taken to Max hospital in Chandigarh.

The train was on its way to the Himalayan town of Shimla 60 miles away. Peter Liney, chief executive of Great Rail Journeys, which is based in York, said 36 passengers and one tour manager had been on the train and a number of them have been taken to hospital.

He said: "Great Rail Journeys has been established for over 30 years and this is the first serious train accident in which we have been involved. “We carry over 60,000 passengers a year, of which 2,500 travel to India.

“At present, we do not have any further details to provide and our absolute priority is to support and help the families of those people who have so tragically died, along with those in hospital in India and at the hotel.

“We will be issuing regular updates when the situation becomes clearer, but we are now entering night time in India so it is unlikely we will be adding any further to this announcement before tomorrow morning, UK time.” The tour left for India on 10 September and was due to finish on 22 September.

Minister for Asia Hugo Swire said, “I am deeply saddened that two British nationals have been killed and many others injured in a train accident in Northern India. “My thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time.

“Teams from the British High Commission in New Delhi and Deputy High Commission in Chandigarh are on their way to the area to help all those affected.”

Suresh Prabhu, India’s railway minister, has ordered an investigation into the accident. The train - known as "a toy train" - is a popular tourist attraction, and has five carriages.

Hours earlier, a passenger train derailed near Gulbarga in Karnataka state, southern India, killing at least two people and leaving several injured. India has one of the world's largest rail networks, carrying about 23 million passengers a day.