At least 15 people were killed and dozens more taken ill early on Saturday after inhaling toxic gas while attempting to steal fuel from a stationary freight train at a railway station in Assam.
The incident took place before dawn near Rangapahar village close to the Diphu railway station in Karbi Anglong district, about 290 km east of Assam's main city of Guwahati. A large group of people from the area, including many from the adjoining state of Nagaland, were attempting to steal fuel from a freight train when the incident took place, police official N.N. Goswami told IANS on phone.
Police said eight bodies were recovered though witnesses said seven more were carried away by locals before dawn.
"Among those killed were two militants of the NSCN-IM," the police official said.
The freight train with 48 wagons was carrying high speed diesel and petrol from the Numaligarh Refinery in Assam to Mugalsarai in Uttar Pradesh. Witnesses and officials said locals attempted to open the wagon's lid to pilfer fuel when heavy fumes coupled with oil spilling out with great force engulfed them, leading to the casualties.
"We saw at least 15 dead bodies scattered in a radius of about 100 metres from the site, while about 25 to 30 others were either unconscious or taken ill with symptoms of nausea and giddiness," K. Timung, a villager, said.