A speeding express train ploughed
into a stationary passenger train in eastern India, killing at least 61 people
in a crash so powerful it thrust the roof of one car onto an overpass. Officials
said they could not rule out sabotage.
Residents crawled over the twisted
wreckage trying desperately to free survivors before rescue workers arrived
with heavy equipment to cut through the metal.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee,
who rushed to the site, raised the possibility the crash could have been
another case of sabotage, two months after Maoist rebels were blamed for a
derailment that killed 145 people.
“We have some doubts in our
mind” about whether it was an accident, she said.
The crash happened when the
Uttarbanga Express slammed into the Vananchal Express as it left the platform
at Sainthia station, about 125 miles north of Calcutta.
The accident destroyed two
passenger cars and a luggage car, turning them into a tangle of twisted metal.
The passenger cars were reserved for those on the cheapest tickets and such
carriages are usually packed to capacity.
Rescuers recovered 61 bodies from
the crash site and 125 other people were injured, said Surajit Kar Purkayastha,
a top police official. The two drivers of the Uttarbanga Express were among the
dead, Banerjee said.
The disaster was the second major
train crash in the state of West Bengal in the past two months. On 28 May, a
passenger train derailed and was hit by an oncoming cargo train in a crash that
killed 145 people. Authorities blamed sabotage by Maoist rebels for that crash.
Accidents are common on India’s
sprawling rail network, one of the world’s largest, with most blamed on poor