(UPDATE 2) At least 25 people were killed and 63 injured Friday when a train traveling between the Russian capital Moscow and Saint Petersburg derailed, possibly as a result of an attack, Russian media reported.
Four wagons of the Nevski Express linking the two cities came off the tracks late on Friday evening in the Novgorod region, a railways official told the Ria-Novosti news agency.
“Twenty-five people were killed and 63 injured” a spokesman from Russia’s prosecutor’s office was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. A previous toll had 22 dead and 54 injured in the attack.
An unnamed security official was quoted by the Interfax as saying that a one meter-diameter (three-foot wide) crater was found near the scene of the disaster.
“Witnesses say they heard a loud bang before the accident. This could be proof of an attack,” the source said.
A railway official also told Itar-Tass that “an attack is one of the possibilities” being looked at by the police.
“That version must be carefully studied by law enforcement authorities,” Alexander Pirkov, an advisor to the president of the Russian railway company, was quoted as saying by Interfax.
The train, carrying 663 passengers on 14 wagons, derailed at 9:34 p.m. (1834 GMT), according to the emergencies ministry.
In August 2007, a bomb on the same line derailed a train, injuring 60 passengers, with Chechen separatist or ultra-nationalist groups suspected.
Russian media said emergency services had been rushed to the scene of the crash, with most of the injured evacuated to local hospitals.
Several medical teams and a mobile hospital were also dispatched to the scene, they added.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the head of the FSB domestic security service, Alexander Bortnikov, and Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika to lead the investigation into the causes of the derailment, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Emergency Situation Minister Sergei Shoigu held a crisis meeting in Moscow with Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and Health Minister Tatiana Golikova, and was expected to visit the scene of derailment Saturday morning, Interfax reported.
In 2007, a bomb on the same line derailed a train, injuring 60 passengers, with Chechen separatist or ultra-nationalist groups suspected.
Russian media said emergency services had been rushed to the scene of the crash, with most of the injured evacuated to local hospitals. — AFP