11 July 2011

100 injured as passenger train bombed in Assam

At least 100 people were injured, 20 of them critically, when a powerful bomb ripped apart a passenger train late Sunday in India's restive northeastern state of Assam, officials said.

No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

A police spokesman said the explosion took place when the Guwahati-Puri Express was nearing Ghograpara in western Assam's Nalbari distict, about 70 km from Assam's main city of Guwahati. The blast took place around 8.30 pm.

Four coaches of the train derailed trapping scores of passengers, leaving many of them seriously injured.

"Flexible wires and other materials used to trigger the explosion were recovered from the accident site," a senior police officer said.

The train was bound for Puri in Orissa.

"There was a loud explosion and it was total chaos soon after. The coach in which I was travelling skidded of the track and fell in a marshy land with waist-deep water. Somehow we managed to come out of the coach," Jiten Das, a passenger who was among those injured, told IANS over telephone.

"I sustained cuts in my head and arms, besides a chest injury."

Four of the coaches derailed and one of the bogies skidded and went at least 20 meters from the track," Dhanmoni Das, a local who helped several of the injured come out of the train, told IANS.

"We rescued more than 100 people and helped them reach the nearest hospitals with the help of bicycles, motorbikes, and private vehicles," said Rubul Ali, another local who helped in the rescue operation.

The critically injured were shifted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital.

"All medical help would be provided with teams of doctors and paramedics alerted to treat the injured passengers," Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

Rescue trains with doctors and paramedics have since arrived at the accident site.

Both the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) are active in the region.

Meanwhile, all incoming and outgoing trains to Assam have been suspended following the blast.

"Until we repair the track, movement of trains would remain suspended," a railway official said.

The accident comes on the day 14 coaches of the speeding Kalka Mail derailed in Uttar Pradesh, killing about 35 people and leaving at least 150 injured.