Train tragedy toll rises to 108

Jhargram (West Bengal), May 29 (IANS) The death toll in Friday’s train tragedy near this West Bengal town has risen to 108, police said Saturday, also blaming Maoists guerrillas for the Gyaneshwari Express accident.

‘We now have 108 confirmed deaths. But more bodies are now being extricated as the rescue workers have entered the worst affected second class sleeper coach S5,’ Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh told IANS.

He said the number of the injured stood at 146. Out of these, 38 were in a serious condition.

Singh said Maoist guerrillas were responsible for Friday’s train mishap near this West Mindapore district town, about 155 km from Kolkata.

‘Definitely, Maoists are involved in this,’ he said.

‘And I say this based on circumstantial evidence,’ he said, without giving details.

The train went off the track between Sardiha and Khemasuli railway stations after suspected Maoists removed 1.5 feet of rail track, at 1.30 a.m. Friday rudely shaking the hundreds of sleeping passengers. Five coaches fell on a parallel track.

Even before the trapped passengers could realise what had happened, a speeding goods train coming from the opposite direction rammed into the five coaches, crushing some of them.

Police found two posters put out by the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities at the accident site, claiming responsibility for the sabotage.

It was the third worst train accident this year blamed on Maoist guerrillas and the worst bout of killings by the rebels since they massacred 76 security personnel in Chhattisgarh April 6.