Chennai, May 1 (PTI): Two minor-intensity bomb blasts today rocked the Guwahati-Bangalore Express at the Central Railway station here claiming a woman’s life and leaving 13 others injured, as police detained a suspect in this connection.
A 22-year-old woman passenger, identified as Swathi, bound for Guntur via Vijaywada, was killed in the explosions that occurred in the S4 and S5 coaches in quick succession.
The injured, including two grievously hurt, have been rushed to the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, where doctors said the injured were “out of danger”.
The train arrived from Bangalore for a ten-minute halt at the Central Railway station, the major railway hub in this metropolis, at about 7.05 AM, and the explosions occurred in the coaches at about 7.15 AM.
As panic-stricken passengers rushed out of the train in platform No 9 and also others in the neighbouring platform, police rushed to the spot and cordoned off the entire area.
Police said a suspect has been detained in connection with the explosions and he was being questioned.
Tamil Nadu DGP K Ramanujam said a special investigation team would investigate the blasts and added that Chennai was not the target.
“It is not a major blast. It is suspected that Chennai could not have been target of those who were behind the blast because the train was running late. Some other location could have been the target”, Ramanujam said.
He said police had no immediate information on who was responsible for the explosion.”It is premature to say what kind of device was used in the blast. Damage to the train is not heavy,” he said.
Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra described it as a “minor blast”.
Railway Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge, expressing shock over the incident, announced Rs one lakh ex-gratia to the family of the woman killed in the explosion.
He said Rs 25,000 will be given to those seriously injured and Rs 5,000 to those with minor injuries.
Kharge said the Railway will bear the entire treatment expenses of the injured.
Commissioner Railway Safety (southern circle) S K Mittal will conduct an inquriy into the incident, Railway Spokesperson Anil Saxena said.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who is in Himachal Pradesh for campaigning for Congress candidates, said, “I have directed my officials to provide all assistance to the state government”. .
Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami said, “We are in touch with the Tamil Nadu government and have sought a report on 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.
Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said, “It seems the blast took place under a berth”.
Kharge said Railway authorities have detached the two coaches damaged in the blasts and replaced them to enable the train to proceed on its onward journey.
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.
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.
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.
Southern Railway has set up a helpline to provide information to the public. The helpline number is 044-64502416.
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.