PATNA, India – At least four people were killed when a train derailed in eastern India on Wednesday, the latest in a series of deadly disasters to blight the country's dilapidated rail network.
While the rail board initially pointed the finger of blame at Maoist insurgents, government officials said there was no reason to suspect sabotage. Some 12 carriages of the Rajdhani Express sleeper train, which was travelling from the capital New Delhi to the northeastern state of Assam, toppled over at around 2:00am (2030 GMT) in Bihar state's Saran district.
Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar was initially quoted as telling the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency that there was a blast on the track which could have caused the derailment, with suspicion falling on the Maoists as they had called a strike in the region. But a spokesman later said sabotage was only one of the possibilities that was being investigated while a senior state and government officials were also cool on the idea that it was an attack.
"Prima facie it does not appear to be the handiwork of Maoists," Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi told reporters. "No trace of blast on the track or any other evidence suggesting sabotage has been found so far," he added, according to PTI. "The incident appears to be a result of error on the part of railways."
Speculation that it could have been an attack by the Maoists was heightened when police said they had recovered three crude explosive devices that had been planted in a marketplace in a nearby town. Bihar is part of a group of states in eastern and central India that have borne the brunt of Maoist attacks which have claimed thousands of lives in recent decades.