Indian police detain suspect after train fire kills 7

PATNA, INDIA - Indian police said on Wednesday they had detained a man in connection with a fire which engulfed a passenger train and killed seven people including an Australian woman in the east of the country.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 23 Nov 2011, 6:17 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:23 AM

Indian Railways police official P.K. Srivastava said the man was taken in for questioning after detectives spoke to others travelling in an air-conditioned coach which was gutted by fire on Tuesday in Jharkhand state.

“Sabotage cannot be ruled out,” Srivastava told AFP while rejecting suggestions that Maoist guerrillas active in the area could be behind the lethal blaze in the state’s Giridih district.

A four-year-old girl was also among the seven killed and 12 injured in the blaze which spread from one coach to another carriage of the train travelling from Kolkata in eastern India to the northern town of Dehradun.

Four Australian female researchers were travelling to the Buddhist holy city of Bodh Gaya. One of them from northwest Tasmania died while the remaining three were hospitalised with burn injuries.

Media reports gave various other possible reasons for the accident including an electrical malfunction in the carriage’s heating system, a blast in a gas cylinder or arson.

Police officer Srivastava confirmed that passengers on board the train had offered different statements to investigators.

In a separate rail-linked accident, some 20 people were hurt when the engine and two cabins of a passenger train derailed on Wednesday in Indian-held Kashmir following a mechanical glitch, officials said.

The incident was the first rail accident in disputed Kashmir since 2008 when India introduced train services in the Himalayan region.

Accidents are frequent on India’s state-owned railways, still the main form of long-distance travel despite fierce competition from private airlines.

The network operates 9,000 passenger trains carrying some 18.5 million passengers every day.

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