Up to seven blasts have rocked Bombay’s commuter rail network, ripping apart train compartments and reportedly injuring dozens. Hundreds of people returning home are feared dead, many more injured. All the explosions took place in the first class compartments of trains at a time when a majority of Mumbaikars were returning home from office. One television channel showed more than half-a-dozen injured people near the site of another blast in the Khar suburban station of Mumbai. One badly injured person lying near railway tracks was carried away by people using a long sheet of cloth.
Dazed survivors were shown with wounds from injuries to heads, legs and hands on the railway station with little sign of any emergency medical aid. All local phones, including mobile services, in the city had jammed apparently due to congestion in the system as anxious people tried to reach their loved ones.
Police officials said two more explosions took place in the Santa Cruz and Mahim suburbs of the city. CNN-IBN reported a fifth blast had taken place but there was no official confirmation. However, Anil Singh, of the Times of India newspaper told BBC World there were 10 dead from seven explosions. Indian television news channels broadcast images of the wounded sprawled on train tracks and being carried through stations, and The Press Trust of India news agency reported six blasts along the city’s commuter rail network, which is among the most crowded in the world. Reuters said there had been at least four blasts. Rediff.com’s Syed Firdaus Ashraf, who was at Mahim railway station soon after reports of the blast came in, said he could see one train compartment was completely blown up in the explosion, and people were carrying bodies away. Bombay, India’s financial center, and New Delhi, the capital, were reportedly on high alert.
The Western Railway has suspended its suburban services soon after the blasts. Local telephone lines were jammed as panic-stricken commuters called their near and dear ones to alert them of the blasts. Commuters said there was no sign of the police even 30 minutes after the blasts.
The Mumbai blasts came just hours after suspected Islamist militants killed seven people, six of them tourists, in a series of grenade attacks in Indian Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, which according to the police is the most concerted targeting of civilians in months.
The Mumbai police have cordoned off all railway stations on the Western line and strict frisking and checking was being carried out at the Central and Harbour sections of local train services.
Mumbai, a metropolis of about 17 million, has been hit by a series of bomb blasts in the past decade. More than 250 people died in a string of bomb explosions in Bombay in 1993 for which authorities blamed the city’s underworld criminal gangs.
More reports awaited.