Chennai, May 1: A young woman working in an IT company was killed and 14 people were injured Thursday when two bombs exploded on a train after it entered the Chennai Central station, police said.
The low intensity explosions in quick succession occurred in two coaches of the Bangalore-Guwahati express train around 7.15 a.m., triggering panic at the busy station.
Many fled in panic and the wounded cried out in pain, and the young woman lay dead. Two of the injured suffered serious injuries.
Southern Railway general manager Rakesh Mishra identified the dead woman as 22-year-old Swathi from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh.
Swathi was an employee of an IT company in Bangalore. She was going to Andhra Pradesh.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the “barbaric act” and said they “highlight the desperation and cowardice of those responsible”.
“No efforts should be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.
The blasts came barely two days after a Sri Lankan, Mohammed Zakir Hussain, was arrested on charge of plotting to damage vital installations in the state.
“The blasts occurred in coaches S4 and S5 of the Bangalore-Guwahati train,” Inspector General of Police (Railways) Seema Agarwal told IANS.
She said the injured were admitted to a government hospital and the two coaches had been separated from the train for investigation.
A man at the station told IANS: “The blast was not very loud. It is only after we saw people running away from the train that we learnt something was wrong.”
He said the rail coaches were not badly damaged but the seat where the dead woman had been seated bore the brunt of the explosion.
The Chennai Central station handles some 200 trains every day.
Railway porters told reporters they were headed towards the incoming train when they heard the blasts. Frightened passengers immediately rushed out of the coaches.
The porters were the first to provide help to the injured. They also helped passengers to get out.
The train was scheduled to reach Chennai at 5.40 a.m. but was running late by an hour and a half.
Police officer Agarwal said it was too early to say what explosives were used.
“We will be checking the (antecedents of) passengers in the two coaches later,” she said.
After detaching the two coaches, the train was later flagged off.
Police took into custody a young man who was hiding in a coach.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa expressed grief at the death of the woman.
She said: “I have ordered police to investigate the crime along with the Railway Police and bring the culprits (to book).”
She also announced a solatium of Rs.100,000 to the family of the dead woman, Rs.50,000 to those who suffered serious injuries and Rs.25,000 to the other injured people.
Following the blasts, security at all major railway stations in Tamil Nadu were beefed up.
According to Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra, an ex-gratia of Rs.100,000 has been announced to the family of the dead, Rs.25,000 for those who suffered serious injuries and Rs.5,000 for the other injured.