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Pakistan Train Bombed in India Leaving 66 Dead

Published: February 20, 2007 (Issue # 1247)



  • A dog from a bomb squad searches a railway station in Mumbai on Monday, the day of the bomb attack near Delhi.
    Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan / Reuters

DEWANA, India A pair of explosions on a train headed for Pakistan set off a fire that killed at least 66 people, some of whom became trapped when a train door was fused shut by the heat of the flames. Officials said the attack was aimed at disrupting improving relations between the rivals.

The explosions and fire struck just before midnight Sunday, a day before peace talks between India and Pakistan.

The fire swept through two cars just before the Samjhauta Express reached the station in the village of Dewana, about 50 miles north of New Delhi. As on most Indian trains, the windows of many cars are barred for security reasons.

Rajinder Prasad, a laborer who lives near the site of the attack, raced with his neighbors to the scene, scooping up water from a reservoir and throwing it on the flames, which rose high above the carriages.

We couldnt save anyone, he said. They were screaming inside, but no one could get out. Within minutes, he said, the screams were drowned out by the roaring flames.

Bharti Arora, superintendent of the Haryana state railway police, put the death toll at 66 but authorities warned it could rise.

From the less damaged coach, some people were seen jumping out with their bodies on fire, Arora said.

At least 30 passengers were hospitalized in the nearby town of Panipat, though they were later moved to larger medical facilities, officials said. A dozen critically injured people were brought to New Delhis Safdarjung Hospital, a hospital statement said.

Dozens of families converged on the Panipat hospital, which was turned into a makeshift morgue. Nasruddin, 58, who like many in the region goes by just one name, traveled up from New Delhi to look for his sister in-law, Skeena, who was on the train but he could only identify her by her possessions.

The police have shown us the charred passport and the money she was carrying and also some burned bits of her clothes, he said.

Outside, police set up a desk next to a stack of makeshift wooden coffins where worried relatives could sift through recovered documents. Piles of burned, sodden Pakistani passports and currency indicated the nationality of most of the victims.

Authorities said two suitcases packed with unexploded crude bombs and bottles of gasoline were found in cars not hit in the attack, leading them to suspect the fire was set off by identical explosive devices. V. N. Mathur, general manager of the Northern Railway, confirmed that there had been two explosions.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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