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Bengal train tragedy: Toll rises to 148

As the remaining debris of the Gyaneshwari Express was cleared on Sunday morning, the death toll in Friday’s crash reached 148.

india Updated: May 31, 2010 00:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

As the remaining debris of the Gyaneshwari Express was cleared on Sunday morning, the death toll in Friday’s crash reached 148.

“Out of 148 bodies, 74 have been identified,” said Anil Handa, divisional railway manager, Kharagpur. “DNA tests are being conducted for establishing the identity of the rest.”

Thirteen coaches of the Kurla-bound train were derailed on Friday near a Midnapore village, some of them run over by a goods train coming from the opposite direction.

Though Naxals have not claimed responsibility, it is believed to be have been engineered by the rebels.

“A forensic investigation will determine whether a blast took place here,” said Raj Kanojia, additional director general, . “This may be a sabotage. We are examining all aspects.”

Though normal train services on the Kharagpur-Tatanagar section have been restored, running of passenger trains on the Kharagpur-Rourkela and Kharagpur-Adra sections will continue to be suspended between 10 pm and 5 am, as a precautionary measure.

The BJP on Sunday accused the CPM and the Trinamool Congress of fighting a political match over the disaster, and sought PM Manmohan Singh’s intervention to check the railway minister’s “highly irresponsible” behaviour.

“Both Trinamool Congress’ Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and CPM, which is heading the state government, have failed in providing quick relief to disaster victims,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar said.

“Both of them are engaged in a political match over the issue with an eye on assembly elections in the state.”
The BJP slammed Banerjee for “giving a clean chit to Maoists even before the inquiry is to happen”.

Landmines on police radar

As landmines continue to kill civilians and securitymen across Naxal-hit districts, authorities are looking for a long-term solution. Landmines and ambush are the two main tactics used by the Naxals.

In Chhattisgarh alone, the rate of landmine blast has gone up from 10-15 annually in 2003 to about 100 in 2009. More than 300 securitymen died in the violence last year.

“The problem becomes acute when the mines are laid deep down under the ground at a given point,” Chhattisgarh DGP Vishwa Ranjan said.

“On June 9, an Israeli company is giving us a demonstration of a new equipment that they claim can detect mines below ground up to 3 metres,” the DGP said at a seminar on Saturday organised by Vivekananda International Foundation. But there is a hitch. “The equipment is costly … it is Rs 25 crore a machine. That is why no decision has been made...,” Ranjan said.

First Published: May 31, 2010 00:57 IST