Chennai: A woman passenger was killed and 13 others were injured, two of them grievously, when two bombs went off today in quick succession in two coaches of the Guwahati-Bangalore Express at the Chennai Central railway station, the main railway hub here.
Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra told reporters that the minor intensity blasts took place at around 7:45 am in S-4 and S-5 sleeper coaches after the train arrived at the platform number 9.
One woman was killed and 13 others were injured grievously. The woman passenger travelling from Bangalore to Vijayawada died.
She was identified as 22-year-old Swati, who was slated to go further to Guntur. Seven persons received minor injuries, Mishra said.
The injured were taken to the government-run Rajiv Gandhi general hospital across the road. Bomb disposal squad and dog squad have been pressed into action.
Mishra said the police was investigating the nature of the blast and those who could be behind it.
Police said a suspect has been detained in connection with the explosions and he was being questioned.
The Railway Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge has announced an ex-gratia of Rs one lakh to the family of dead woman, Rs 25,000 for grievously injured and Rs 5,000 for those with minor injuries.
Kharge said the Railway will bear the entire treatment expenses of the injured.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned Chennai blasts. He said the act highlights desperation and cowardice of those responsible.
Mishra said the grievous injuries of the passengers were not life threatening. He said the whole train was being searched and it may be allowed to carry on with its onward journey.
Soon after the explosion, security personnel cordoned off the platform number 9 but the movement of other trains from and to Chennai Central has not been affected. Police have mounted a massive search operation in all the trains following the incident.
Mishra said the train had a brief 10 minute halt at the Central Railway station ahead of its ownward journey. Police said they were probing the cause of explosion and device used for it.
The Railway has started helpline numbers 044-25357398 and 044-64502416 to render assistance to relatives of passengers.
Train services at the station were expected to be resumed by 1100 hrs, he said.
"Affected coaches will be detached and two new coaches will be attached to the train," said Anil Saxena, Railway spokesperson.
Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami said, "We are in regular touch with the Tamil Nadu government and have sought a report about the incident." Asked whether the blast can be termed as a terror attack, Goswami said it was too early to arrive at any conclusion. "We are still waiting for the details," he said.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is currently in Himachal Pradesh for campaigning for the Congress candidates. "I am away in Himachal. I have directed my officials to provide all assistance to the state government," Shinde said. A team of National Security Guard and explosive experts is likely to be sent to Chennai to join in the investigation into the blast.
NIA team from Hyderabad is being rushed to the blast site, official sources said. Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said dog squad, medical teams and RPF teams have reached the spot. "It seems the blast took place under a berth and one passenger has lost life in the blast," he said.
Condemning the blasts, DMK MP T K S Elangovan said, "This will create fear in the minds of the passengers... so it is on police to take precautionary steps and see such things don't happen in the future". Meanwhile, security at the railway station, where thousands of people arrive and depart daily, has been further stepped up and all inbound and out-bound trains were being subjected to extensive check. Baggage screening procedures have been further scaled up, Railway sources said.
As a precautionary measure, police have stepped up security at the airport here.
The injured have been identified as Murali (37), Krishnapant, Soren Pant, Santh, Bijan Kumar (24), Uma, Abdul Khan(24), Shihabul Haque (22), Vimal Kumar, Hari (21), Altaf Khan admitted to Government Hospital.
Chennai: It was chaos all around at the Chennai Central Railway Station as passengers ran out of the Guwahati-Bangalore Express in panic soon after the two bombs went off in the coaches of the train.
A passenger, who was travelling by the S3 coach, narrating his experience, said, "I was awake and resting on my berth. At about 7.15 am, we heard some sound from the next coach. I came out of the coach and saw what had happened in S4 and S5 coaches".
Most passengers, who were panic-stricken, also rushed out, he said. "We saw three to four injured persons writhing in pain." "Initially we thought it was the sound of a cylinder explosion. But we later learnt that it was bomb explosion", the passenger said.