76 killed in Maoist attack on Mumbai-bound train
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At least 76 passengers of a Mumbai-bound express train were killed when Maoists derailed it in the wee hours of Friday with five of the 13 coaches that jumped the tracks also being hit by an oncoming goods train.
200 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.