Suspected bomb derails Moscow-St Petersburg train, kills at least 25

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

An express train travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg in Russia derailed yesterday, leaving at least 25 people dead and 100 more wounded. Authorities suspect a terrorist attack after a possible bomb crater was found beside the line.

File map of Russia's location in Europe.
Image: David Liuzzo.

The trainwreck occurred in the countryside of Tver, near Bologoye. Around 650 passengers were on board the Nevsky Express which was travelling during peak time along one of Russia's most-traversed rail routes. Ninety of the injured are hospitalised, with hundreds of rescue workers attending and three victims being airlifted by helicopter.

Survivors say they heard a loud bang just before the crash. "There was an explosion under the locomotive," the driver said as he called the Emergencies Ministry from his mobile phone. "I do not know what we hit. We are derailed. The locomotive and carriages, I do not know yet what else, everything is in smoke."

The prosecutor-general has launched a terrorism investigation. Vladimir Yakunin, head of state-owned Russian Railways, said the chief line of enquiry is "To put it simply, a terrorist attack." "There is objective evidence that ... a blast from an explosive device is one of the explanations for the Nevsky Express incident," he said.

There was an explosion under the locomotive. I do not know what we hit. We are derailed

—Train driver's emergency call

The Interfax agency reported the crater was a metre wide. Russian journalists reporting from the scene were unable to locate it. President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a full investigation and assistance for the victims. The Health Ministry said that over a dozen people remain missing.

Russian railway infrastructure is poorly maintained and plagued by negligence and alcohol abuse, according to The Guardian. There is also a high concern of terrorism, especially from rebels in Chechnya. Two Chechnyan rebels are accused of a 2007 bombing that derailed a train on the same line, wounding 27 people.