Lucknow, India - A passenger train derailed in northern India Sunday, killing at least 63 travellers most of whom were sleeping when the fatal accident occurred, police said.
Rescue workers rushed to the scene near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh state where the Patna-Indore express train derailed in the early hours of the morning.
"As we know a major accident has happened in which the entire train turned turtle. About 63 dead bodies have been taken out and some 150 people are injured," Daljit Singh Chawdhary, the additional police director general, told reporters.
"A lot of teams are currently there including local police, doctors and members of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The rescue operations are on."
All local hospitals had been placed on alert and around 30 ambulances had been deployed to transport the injured.
TV footage showed rescue workers trying to cut through severely mangled coaches with suitcases and other luggage strewn around.
Witnesses spoke of being woken up by a huge bang and being thrown around.
"We woke up to a great thud this morning. It was pitch dark and the noise was deafening," a passenger told reporters as he waited with his family at the accident site.
"I am lucky to be alive and safe. But it was a near death experience for us." Suresh Prabhu, India's Railways Minister, said in a tweet the government would investigate what caused the derailment and promised the strictest possible action against those found guilty.
India's railway network, one of the world's largest, is still the main form of long-distance travel in the vast country, but it is poorly funded and deadly accidents occur relatively frequently.
In 2014, an express train ploughed into a stationary freight train, also in Uttar Pradesh, killing 26 people.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was "anguished beyond words" by the loss of life.
Modi's government has pledged to invest US$137 billion (S$195 billion) over five years to modernise its crumbling railways, making them safer, faster and more efficient.