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Mangled passenger coaches climbed on top of the goods train and many people were trapped inside near Churaib station, in the Sant Kabir Nagar district of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said a police spokesman in the state capital, Lucknow.
Monday's crash is the latest to highlight India's ailing infrastructure, a problem that Narendra Modi, due to be sworn in as prime minister on Monday, has vowed to make a top priority.
"My condolences to families of those who lost their lives in the Gorakhdham Express tragedy. Prayers with the injured," Modi tweeted on Monday. The Gorakhdham Express is the name of the passenger train.
Modi has promised to build new inter-state highways and a network of bullet trains, as well as addressing severe electricity shortages.
At least 19 people were killed and 130 injured when a train derailed in western India earlier this month.