NEW DELHI – Two British women were killed and 11 people injured on Saturday after three carriages of a tourist train derailed on its way to the Himalayan city of Shimla, a railways spokesman said.
Loraine Toner and Joan Nickolas, both 60, have been identified as the two women who were killed in the accident by the Indian press.
The train was travelling from Kalka to the Indian Himalayan town of Shimla when nine carriages came off the track at around 1pm local time on Saturday.
Passengers were travelling on a four-carriage tourist service chartered by Great Rail Journeys.
Chief executive officer Peter Liney said 36 passengers and one tour manager were on the train.
A number of victims were taken to a local hospital, where three people are still being treated for non life-threatening injuries, he added.
“The remaining passengers are safe in the hotel in Chandigarh and are awaiting the arrival of Great Rail Journeys’ emergency response team, led by our director Julian Appleyard and accompanied by an expert counsellor,” Mr Liney said.
The team will “offer any support and help necessary to those passengers who are there”, he continued.
“On site there continues to be a team of our representative’s local staff who are there to give whatever aid and assistance they can.
“We would like to express our very sincere thanks for the enormous support the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has provided over the last 24 hours and, indeed, for the assistance given by the Indian Consular offices in the UK in fast-tracking the emergency visa applications we have required.”
He added: “The families of those who were fatally injured have been informed.
“We are working with the FCO to assist their relatives in travelling to India as soon as possible.”
Representatives from the York-based travel company are at the scene and senior staff are expected to arrive at 3pm UK time today, along with qualified counsellors.
Responding to the deaths, 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.”
The cause of the derailment is not yet known.
The tour, India’s Golden Triangle, left for India on September 10 and was due to finish on September 22.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the families of the deceased have been informed but it was unable to confirm the identities of the passengers.