"Twenty four persons have been killed and 40 others are injured when the train, travelling from Hubli to Bengaluru, collided with a goods train at Penneconda station at around 3.15 am," a railway spokesperson said.
As a result of the collision the train derailed and two coaches caught fire. While the fire has been brought under control, rescue operations are still on.
The injured have been admitted to nearby hospitals.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy expressed shock over the train accident at Penukonda in Anantpur district in the wee hours today and is expected to visit the accident spot by Tuesday afternoon.
The chief minister would be leaving for the accident spot soon and would also go to meet the injured persons in hospitals, sources said.
Railway Minister Mukul Roy, who was in Kolkata, had ordered an inquiry into it. Commissioner Railway Safety (Southern Circle), S K Mittal will conduct a statutory inquiry and has been asked to submit a report at the earliest. "It is sad that so many precious lives have been lost," he said, as he was headed to the accident site.
When asked if there was some issue with the signal he said that the railways was looking to introduce the train protection signal system as early as possible. He also said that it was too early to comment whether the crash occured due to a technical or human fault.
Roy also announced a compensation of Rs five lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, Rs one lakh for those who sustained grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 to those who received minor injuries. The injured have been admitted to nearby hospitals.
"The reason of the accident is yet to be ascertained but prima facie it seems that the driver of the Hampi Express overshot the signal," the spokesperson said, adding senior railway officials have rushed to the spot.
Chairman Railway Board, Vinay Mittal, who was on a tour to Allahabad has cut short his visit and rushed to the accident site. Also, railway board members (traffic), K K Srivastava, and (mechanical) Keshav Chandra have left for the spot.
The railways has set up helplines at Bengaluru City, Bellary, Hospet and Hubli.
The helpline numbers at Bengaluru city are 080-22321166, 22156553, 22156554; Bellary 08392-277704; Hospet 08394-221788; Hubli 0836-2345338, 2346141, 2289826.
With inputs from PTI