Indian migrant deaths: 16 sleeping workers run over by train

(BBC) – Indian officials have ordered an investigation after 16 people were run over by a freight train in the state of Maharashtra.

The dead were migrant workers who had fallen asleep on the tracks, while attempting to walk to a station, from where they were hoping to get a train home.

India has organised special trains to take migrants to their home villages.

Tens of thousands of them fled cities on foot when India went into lockdown.

India’s migrant workforce comprises people who move to big cities from rural areas in search of better income prospects.

Railway officials say the workers walked on the road towards Aurangabad, and later on railway tracks leading to Aurangabad.

After walking for 22 miles (36km), they were exhausted and decided to rest.According to local reports, the workers assumed that trains would not be running because of the lockdown, and therefore slept on the tracks. Images on social media show pieces of roti (Indian bread) strewn near the tracks.

When industries shut down overnight on 24 March, many of migrant workers feared they would starve and attempted to walk back to their home villages.

Many had no choice but to walk, as bus and train services were halted overnight. Their plight had caused outrage within the country.

With the easing of restrictions earlier this month, the government announced that migrants would be able to return to their home states on special trains and buses.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said he was “extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the fatal accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra”.

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