Passenger train derails in northern India, at least three dead

A 2012 government report said almost 15,000 people were killed every year on India’s railways and described the loss of life as an annual “massacre.” (Reuters)
Updated 24 November 2017
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Passenger train derails in northern India, at least three dead

NEW DELHI: Thirteen coaches of an express train derailed in northern India early Friday throwing sleeping passengers from their seats in a new disaster that left three dead and nine injured.
The Vasco Da Gama Express flipped off the tracks in thick fog soon after leaving Manikpur station in Uttar Pradesh state, police said.
The train was heading for the Bihar state capital of Patna when the accident took place at 4:15 am when most travelers were asleep.
“Three passengers were killed and nine others are injured. We have evacuated those trapped inside the wagons and taken the injured to hospitals,” local police chief Pratap Gopendra Singh said.
The dead included a six-year-old boy and his father.
Singh said the blanket of fog over the region hampered the rescue operation. He said a fractured rail was suspected to have caused the accident.
Local television footage showed emergency workers clearing the site and upturned coaches near the tracks.
Traffic on the main rail link was disrupted for several hours.
The accident is the latest disaster to hit India’s creaking railways.
India’s railway network is the main form of long-distance travel, but is poorly funded, and deadly accidents often occur.
Four people were killed on Thursday when a train hit their vehicle at an unmanned railway crossing near Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh capital.
The latest accident happened on the first anniversary of a derailment in the same state in which 146 people died.
Twenty-three passengers were killed in August after several coaches of an express train derailed and crashed into a college building in Uttar Pradesh.
A 2012 government report said almost 15,000 people were killed every year on India’s railways and described the loss of life as an annual “massacre.”


UK’s official Brexit campaign fined, referred to police

Updated 40 min 43 sec ago
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UK’s official Brexit campaign fined, referred to police

  • The report found that the Vote Leave campaign exceeded its legal spending limit of £7.0 million ( $9.3 million) by almost £500,000
  • Vote Leave returned an incomplete and inaccurate spending report

LONDON: Britain’s official Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, has been fined for breaking spending rules in the 2016 EU membership referendum, the Electoral Commission said Tuesday, adding that it had referred the case to the police.
The Electoral Commission said the winning side in the referendum had worked together with a smaller pro-Brexit group called BeLeave to get around campaign finance rules.
“We found substantial evidence that the two groups worked to a common plan, did not declare their joint working and did not adhere to the legal spending limits,” said Bob Posner, the commission’s director of political finance and regulation.
“These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums,” Posner said.
A Vote Leave spokesman accused the Electoral Commission of being “motivated by a political agenda rather than uncovering the facts.”
The spokesman said there were “a number of false accusations and incorrect assertions that are wholly inaccurate and do not stand up to scrutiny.”
The report found that the Vote Leave campaign exceeded its legal spending limit of £7.0 million (7.9 million euros, $9.3 million) by almost £500,000.
Vote Leave, which had support from leading euroskeptic Boris Johnson, also returned an incomplete and inaccurate spending report and failed to submit some invoices for its spending.
The report said the BeLeave group, which was founded by fashion student Darren Grimes, spent more than £675,000 with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian digital political advertising company, under a “common plan” with Vote Leave.
The company was mentioned in the scandal over Cambridge Analytica, a now defunct British company accused of misusing data obtained from Facebook to micro-target political ads.
Christopher Wylie, a Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, alleged that pro-Brexit groups worked together to get around campaign finance rules by using the services of Aggregate IQ.
Wylie said that Aggregate IQ was linked to Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.
The Electoral Commission said it had referred the case to police.
“Investigation files have been shared with the Metropolitan Police in relation to whether any persons have committed related offenses which lie outside our regulatory remit,” the report said.
Vote Leave was fined £61,000 and Grimes was fined £20,000, the maximum levy for an individual.
But the Vote Leave spokesman said it had provided evidence to the Electoral Commission “proving there was no wrongdoing.”
“And yet, despite clear evidence of wrongdoing by the Remain campaign, the commission has chosen to ignore this and refused to launch an investigation.”
“We will consider the options available to us, but are confident that these findings will be overturned,” he said.