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An investigation has been launched into how a tourist train derailed in northern India, killing two British holidaymakers.
Eye-witnesses claimed that the train took a bend at speed and came off the tracks while climbing to the historic city of Shimla in the foothills of the Himalayas on Saturday.
Passengers were reported by the Times as accusing the driver of speeding on the vintage track that winds up to the city, which was the summer capital of India while the country was under British rule.
A probe is now under way to discover what caused the specially-chartered train, which was carrying 37 Britons on the Kalka to Shimla mountain line, to derail.
The dead were named as Loraine Tonner, 56, and Joan Nichols, 71, who were part of a tour group on the second day of their holiday with York-based Great Rail Journeys.
Three passengers remained in intensive care at a hospital in the nearby city of Chandigarh yesterday. One woman had emergency surgery for head injuries on Saturday, medical staff said. Tour leader Andrew Summerhayes was also reported to be in a critical condition.
Three carriages of the four-carriage train came off the rails shortly after leaving Kalka railway station. Local police said nine people were injured, including six Britons.
Great Rail Journeys chief executive, Peter Liney, thanked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for its assistance, and said a group of passengers were take to a hotel in Chandigarh.
An emergency response team from the company, including a counsellor, was dispatched to the scene.
“A number of the passengers have chosen to move on from the hotel in Chandigarh and have gone to Shimla, where Great Rail Journeys will ensure that an experienced tour manager is made available,” Liney told the BBC.
Confirming the deaths of two British nationals on Saturday, FCO 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.”
The so-called Toy Train’s 96-kilometre narrow gauge track through the Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas is one of three Indian mountain railways which together constitute a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The line negotiates 102 tunnels, more than 864 bridges and around 919 curves, according to the Great Rail Journeys website.
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