Maoists Derail India Train, Killing 71


Maoist rebels derailed a high-speed train packed with sleeping passengers into the path of a freight train in eastern India on Friday, killing at least 71 people, police said.

It was the latest in a series of deadly Maoist attacks that have put the government under intense pressure to consider deploying the military as it struggles to contain the growing left-wing insurgency.

Police warned the death toll would rise with dozens more bodies feared trapped in the mangled wreckage after 13 carriages of the Mumbai-bound express from Kolkata careened off the tracks in a remote area of West Bengal.

Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee said the train had been derailed by a “severe bomb blast”, but officials said they were also looking at evidence that metal plates used to secure adjoining sections of track had been removed.

“It is a clear case of sabotage. The Maoists have done it,” West Bengal police chief Bhupinder Singh told reporters at the crash site. He said Maoist leaflets had been found scattered by the tracks.

The Maoist-backed People’s Committee against Police Atrocities claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to the Press Trust of India, the news agency said without giving further details.

Another senior police official helping coordinate the rescue operation said emergency teams had recovered 71 bodies.

“We’re doing all we can, but I’m afraid there are still more bodies trapped in some of the carriages,” police inspector general Surajit Kar Purakayastha said.

More than 120 people were reported injured, some of them in critical condition.

Four of the carriages that slammed into an oncoming 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.

One survivor, Vinayak Sadna, said he had been sleeping when his carriage lurched violently to one side and then flipped over, flinging passengers around the compartment.

“I ended up stuck between two seats with an iron bar crushing my hand,” Sadna said. “I was trapped for three hours before I was pulled out. My wife is still missing.”

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