Train carrying petroleum products catches fire in Assam

Guwahati, Nov 17 ( At least 20 wagons were damaged in Assam when a goods train carrying petroleum products went up in flames. Authorities are not ruling out the possibility of a bomb blast.

The train with 48 wagons of high speed diesel and petrol from the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) in Assam caught fire late Monday near Changpool in Golaghat district, about 270 km from here, a railway spokesperson said.

“The fire is still raging and it is too early to say if the accident took place due to an explosion or other reasons,” S. Hajong, chief spokesperson of the Northeast Frontier Railways, told IANS.

The train was bound for Uttar Pradesh from the NRL.

Locals in the area said they heard the sound of a big explosion and saw the train up in flames.

“There was a big sound like that of a bomb blast and then the train derailed and caught fire,” Mahmod Ali, a local resident, said.

NRL authorities said about 10 wagons containing diesel caught fire, while about 10 more wagons derailed with the petroleum products spilling on to the ground.

“So far 24 wagons were detached from the site. The damage is extensive although we don’t know the reason of the accident,” A.K. Bhattacharrya, deputy general manager (Marketing) of NRL, told Inditop.

Police and fire fighters struggled throughout the night to control the blaze, that could be seen from at least five km, with the fire leaping to a height of more than 100 metres.

“Only after the fire is controlled completely we can be sure if the accident was a result of a bomb blast or the train caught fire after getting derailed,” a police official said.

The area is a stronghold of both the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and Adivasi tribal militants.

Meanwhile, train services were disrupted as the accident took place on a main track.

“Several trains, including the Rajdhani Express bound for New Delhi were stopped. Train services can be resumed only after the track is cleared and repaired,” Hajong said.