India says train drivers watching cricket caused crash that killed 14 in Andhra Pradesh

The drivers of a train that missed a signal and ploughed into another train, killing 14 people, were distracted because they were watching cricket on a phone, India’s railways minister said Monday.

The fatal collision in Andhra Pradesh state in October took place as hosts India played England during the one-day World Cup.

“The recent case in Andhra Pradesh happened because both the loco-pilot and co-pilot were distracted by the cricket match,” Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw said, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

India’s players celebrate after the dismissal of a batter for England during the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup one-day international match in Lucknow on October 29, 2023. Photo: AFP

“Now we are installing systems which can detect any such distraction and make sure that the pilots [train drivers] and the assistant pilots are fully focused on running the train.”

Hundreds of millions of fans in cricket-crazy India tuned in to watch the live broadcast of the World Cup match, which the hosts won.

Separately, officials sacked the station master and three other employees after a runaway goods train travelled 70km (40 miles) without a driver last month, the Hindustan Times reported.

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The men were removed from their posts for negligence after some 50 carriages barrelled on solo for close to two hours.

India has one of the world’s largest rail networks and has seen several disasters over the years, the worst in 1981 when a train derailed while crossing a bridge in Bihar state, killing an estimated 800 people.

In June 2023, a three-train collision killed nearly 300 people in Odisha state.

In recent years India has been investing huge sums of money to upgrade the network with modern stations and electronic signalling systems.

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