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Train blasts rock Mumbai

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Over 100 people killed, more than 250 injured at 7 places

Our Bureau

Mumbai, July 11

A series of seven blasts rocked stations dotting the Western Railway service, killing over 100 people, injuring over 258 and bringing the financial capital to a chilling standstill on Tuesday evening. The death-toll is expected to go up, police said.

The serial-blasts went off in a matter of 18 to 20 minutes, Western Railway officials told

Business Line

. Local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai and the affected Western line ferries about 30 lakh passengers everyday, round-the-clock. Trains link the business district in South Mumbai to its suburbs and the three lines connecting the city indefinitely stopped their services after the blasts.

A

Business Line

staffer was on the train that suffered the first blast at Khar station. Visibly shaken by the incident, she recounted that some co-passengers even jumped out of the train. Today's multiple-blasts are the third in the last 13 years, where different locations including the Bombay Stock Exchange and Air India headquarters were targeted.

It was a disturbing déjà vu for the citizens of Mumbai as news of the multiple-blasts trickled in at the end of a regular working day today. The first blast is reported to have gone off at 6.25 pm on a moving train at Khar, the Western Railway official said.

Blasts occurred at Matunga Road, Mahim, Bandra, Khar Road, Jogeshwari, Borivili and Mira Road, he said.

Most of the explosions took place either in the first-class compartments or near it. Overhead wires have snapped with the impact of the explosions and in some cases, according to reports, the roof of the compartment is believed to have been ripped-off. Commuters stranded at the stations helped in the rescue efforts that were further hampered by the rains.

Panic set-in as people were unable to contact their families, with mobile phones being jammed as the news began trickling in.

People returned to their offices to stay the night, as train services remained suspended, taxis stopped plying and the roads got clogged in a traffic jam.

Flights diverted

International flights have not been taking-off or landing, an airport official said. International flights to Mumbai may be diverted, he added. Domestic services, he said, were on schedule.

The city is home to several major corporate houses such as the Tatas, Birlas and Reliance, besides major financial institutions.

Mumbai has stood witness to two similar incidents of multiple-blasts in the past. In 1993, 13 blasts rocked the city and later in 2003, twin-blasts went-off killing people close to the Gate Way of India. The 1993 blast had killed 257 people and injured over 700 and the 2003 blast killed 46 people, injuring about 160 people.

Meanwhile, according to agency reports, the Chief Minister, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, has announced compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the families of the victims. Further, he said, a red alert has been sounded in the State, after reviewing security measures. The State Home Minister, Mr R.R. Patil, said that RDX may have been used in the blast and suspected the hand of an international terrorist group.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 12, 2006)
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