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71 killed as Maoists derail train in Bengal

By The Assam Tribune

JHARGRAM (WB), May 28 � At least 71 passengers of a Mumbai-bound express train were killed when Maoists derailed it in the wee hours of today with five of the 13 coaches that jumped the tracks also being hit by an oncoming goods train, reports PTI.

150 passengers were also injured in the derailment of of the Howrah-Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express in West Midnapore district, about 150 kms from Kolkata at around 1:30 am, when the train was running between Khemasoli and Sardiya stations, South Eastern Railway officials said.

Railway officials said bodies of 71 persons have been recovered so far from the train wreckage.

Several passengers are feared trapped in the worst smashed S-5 compartment of the train which bore the brunt when the speeding goods train ploughed through the derailed coaches. Officials feared that the death toll could go up.

Five of the derailed carriages that slammed into the goods train were badly crushed and flipped on their sides with body parts clearly visible amid the twisted metal.

Rescue workers with bolt cutters struggled to free anyone still alive inside.

There was confusion on the exact cause of the disaster in the Maoist stronghold with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee blaming it on a �bomb blast� at the rail track while top brass of the West Bengal Police said it was an act of sabotage since fish plates were found removed.

DGP Bhupinder Singh, who said blast theory was yet to be established, also said pendral clips which are used to hold sections of tracks together were found missing over a 50-metre stretch at the accident spot. Some passengers also said they heard no blast.

�It is a clear case of sabotage. The Maoists have done it,� Singh said.

Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram said in New Delhi the disaster appeared to be an act of sabotage, but it was not yet clear whether explosives were used in the blast.

Mamata said TNT explosives and gelatine sticks were also found at the accident site. Railway General Manager A P Mishra too said these materials were found on the tracks.

She said a patrol engine had passed through the disaster spot half an hour earlier, but the timing of the blast proved disastrous with a portion of the line being blown away.

IGP (Law and Order) S Karpurakayastha told PTI in Kolkata that Maoist-backed People�s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA)has left two posters near the rail tracks �clearly owning responsibility� for the derailment. The attack came as the Maoists observe a �Black Week�.

A PCPA spokesman Asit Mahato later denied the group�s involvement.

Five of the 13 derailed coaches fell on an adjacent track and were hit by a goods train coming from the opposite direction, Additional Superintendent of Police, Jhargram, Mukesh Kumar said.

Of the injured persons, 78 were admitted to the Kharagpur Railway Hospital, 39 to the Midnapore State General Hospital and 25 to Kharagpur Government Hospital.

Some of the injured were treated beside the track while the most serious cases were evacuated by IAF helicopters.

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71 killed as Maoists derail train in Bengal

JHARGRAM (WB), May 28 � At least 71 passengers of a Mumbai-bound express train were killed when Maoists derailed it in the wee hours of today with five of the 13 coaches that jumped the tracks also being hit by an oncoming goods train, reports PTI.

150 passengers were also injured in the derailment of of the Howrah-Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express in West Midnapore district, about 150 kms from Kolkata at around 1:30 am, when the train was running between Khemasoli and Sardiya stations, South Eastern Railway officials said.

Railway officials said bodies of 71 persons have been recovered so far from the train wreckage.

Several passengers are feared trapped in the worst smashed S-5 compartment of the train which bore the brunt when the speeding goods train ploughed through the derailed coaches. Officials feared that the death toll could go up.

Five of the derailed carriages that slammed into the goods train were badly crushed and flipped on their sides with body parts clearly visible amid the twisted metal.

Rescue workers with bolt cutters struggled to free anyone still alive inside.

There was confusion on the exact cause of the disaster in the Maoist stronghold with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee blaming it on a �bomb blast� at the rail track while top brass of the West Bengal Police said it was an act of sabotage since fish plates were found removed.

DGP Bhupinder Singh, who said blast theory was yet to be established, also said pendral clips which are used to hold sections of tracks together were found missing over a 50-metre stretch at the accident spot. Some passengers also said they heard no blast.

�It is a clear case of sabotage. The Maoists have done it,� Singh said.

Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram said in New Delhi the disaster appeared to be an act of sabotage, but it was not yet clear whether explosives were used in the blast.

Mamata said TNT explosives and gelatine sticks were also found at the accident site. Railway General Manager A P Mishra too said these materials were found on the tracks.

She said a patrol engine had passed through the disaster spot half an hour earlier, but the timing of the blast proved disastrous with a portion of the line being blown away.

IGP (Law and Order) S Karpurakayastha told PTI in Kolkata that Maoist-backed People�s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA)has left two posters near the rail tracks �clearly owning responsibility� for the derailment. The attack came as the Maoists observe a �Black Week�.

A PCPA spokesman Asit Mahato later denied the group�s involvement.

Five of the 13 derailed coaches fell on an adjacent track and were hit by a goods train coming from the opposite direction, Additional Superintendent of Police, Jhargram, Mukesh Kumar said.

Of the injured persons, 78 were admitted to the Kharagpur Railway Hospital, 39 to the Midnapore State General Hospital and 25 to Kharagpur Government Hospital.

Some of the injured were treated beside the track while the most serious cases were evacuated by IAF helicopters.

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