At least 233 people have been killed after at least two trains were involved in a crash in eastern India.

The collision happened about 130 miles southwest of Kolkata in Odisha’s Balasore district on Friday evening.

Between 10 and 12 carriages of one train derailing and debris falling on to a nearby track, according to railroad ministry spokesperson Amitabh Sharma.

The debris was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction, and up to three carriages from that train also derailed, Mr Sharma said.

Fire services chief Sudhanshu Sarangi told the Press Trust of India that more than 800 people were hurt.

The Press Trust also said a third train carrying freight was involved, but railway authorities did not confirm this.

The cause of the crash is being investigated.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he is “distressed” by the accident and confirmed that rescue operations are under way at the site.

He said on Twitter that “all possible assistance” was being offered, adding: “May the injured recover soon.”

Odisha’s chief secretary, Pradeep Jena, said nearly 500 police officers and rescue workers with 75 ambulances and buses responded to the accident.

Rescuers were attempting to free 200 people feared trapped in the derailed carriages, said D B Shinde, the Balasore district administrator in Odisha state.

Speaking from India, Sky reporter Neville Lazarus said all hospitals in the Balasore district are on high alert.

He said the trains involved run along “one of the main artery tracks” of the eastern side of the country’s rail network.

Passenger Vandana Kaleda told the New Delhi Television news channel that she “found people falling on each other” as her carriage shook violently and veered off the tracks. She said she was lucky to survive.

Another survivor, who did not give his name, said he was sleeping when the impact of the crash woke him up.

He recalled seeing other passengers with broken limbs and disfigured faces.

More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India every day, travelling on 40,000 miles of track.

Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India’s railways, the largest train network under one management in the world.

More than 350 people were killed when two trains collided near New Delhi in August 1995 – the worst train accident in India’s history.

Most train accidents are blamed on human error or outdated signalling equipment.