BANGALORE, India – A freight train rammed into derailed coaches of a passenger express in eastern India early yesterday, killing at least 56 people in the country’s worst rail disaster in eight years, as officials suspected sabotage by Maoist rebels.
The Gyaneshwari Express headed for the financial capital of Mumbai was struck by a cargo train in West Bengal’s Jhargram district, the state’s Home Secretary Samar Ghosh said in a phone interview. More than 100 injured passengers were taken to local hospitals and there’s “still hope for survivors,’’ said Praveen Kumar, a local deputy inspector general of police.
“It is a case of sabotage,’’ Vivek Sahai, a member of the Railway Board, told reporters in New Delhi. The impact of the freight train caused most of the fatalities, he said.
Police at the scene blamed Maoist guerrillas for the derailment, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters.
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said in a statement that part of the track appeared to have been removed. It isn’t clear whether explosives were used, he said.
The left-wing rebels operate in 11 of India’s 28 states and have killed more than 7,500 people since 1998.