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Assam: Raging inferno on tracks, ULFA hand suspected

Last updated on: November 17, 2009 12:31 IST

Twelve oil tankers of a goods train were charred and four others derailed due to a blast allegedly triggered by ULFA militants near Moriani in Assam's Jorhat district, disrupting train services on the section.

Each tanker was carrying 70,000 litres of high speed diesel valued at about 25 lakh each, Numaligarh Refinery Limited sources said.

The fire in the tankers broke out when the train was coming from Numaligarh refinery to Panki in Uttar Pradesh at about 9.30 pm last night.

"ULFA militants caused the sabotage. Forty metre of flexible wire was recovered from the area leading to the tracks. Investigations have begun and a clear picture will emerge soon," GRP sources said.

The fire was contained after 12 hours at about 9.30 am on Tuesday, Northeast Frontier railway sources said.

The guard and driver of the freight train carrying 51 tankers were safe, officials said.

Sources said the driver of the train heard a blast and saw plumes of smoke billowing out of the tankers. Some of the tankers derailed and fell on other tracks, sources said.

NF railway officials said they have been able to save 31 tankers, two safety tankers and the brake-van.      A total of 16 tankers have been affected. While 12 of them were charred, four others derailed with oil leaking from three of them. A small bridge was also damaged in the incident.

Fire tenders were brought in from Army, police, fire brigade and nearby industries.

The nature of the fire is such that fire officials will have to wait for the fuel to be burnt out. Train services have been disrupted in upper and lower Assam as the main track has been blocked, officials said. The UP and DOWN Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express are among the trains disrupted by the fire.

Senior railway officials have rushed to the spot at a place between Barpathar and Bhirgaon and are making arrangements to clear the tracks.

"More than 300 metre rail track was damaged as the goods train derailed, toppling the tankers. The restoration work was affected due to extreme heat in the area and it will take 6-7 hours," A NFR spokesperson told PTI.

Services of both the UP and DOWN Dibrugarh Rajdhani Expresses were disrupted. The Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express has been stopped at Moriani station and the passengers would be taken to Simoluguri station in Jorhat district by road.

From Simoluguri, they will be taken to Dibrugarh by the Rajdhani Express coming from Dibruragh, railway officials said.

The passengers of New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani express stopped at Simoluguri will be brought to Moriani by road. They would start their onward journey to New Delhi by Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express stopped there.

Dibrugarh-Amritsar Express was cancelled and 2067 Janshatabdi express was short-terminated in Dimapur. All local passenger trains have also been cancelled, NF railway sources said.

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