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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 couldn’t 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 Delhi’s 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, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Add to your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya Ploshchad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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