Officials: 22 dead in Russia train derailment, sabotage a possible cause

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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MOSCOW - An express train carrying hundreds of passengers from Moscow to St. Petersburg derailed late Friday, killing at least 22 people and injuring dozens of others, emergency officials said.
The state-run railway company said the derailment could have been the result of sabotage, fueling fears of terrorism.
The three rear cars of the Nevsky Express went off the tracks in the Tver province northwest of Moscow, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Russian Railways said that four cars derailed and said 50 people were taken to two hospitals in the area.
The emergencies ministry said 22 people were killed and 54 injured, citing preliminary information. The RIA Novosti and Interfax news agencies cited unidentified regional law enforcement officials as saying 25 people were dead and 63 injured.
Russian Railways said the cause was not yet determined but one possibility was sabotage, which could mean a bomb or another deliberate action to derail the train and cause casualties. Russian news agencies cited unidentified officials as saying a small crater was found at the site of the wreck, leading to speculation that it could have been caused by explosives.
A bomb blast on the same line in 2007 derailed a passenger train and injured 27 people. Two suspects have been arrested and authorities are searching for a former military officer they believe was behind the blast, but the motive was unclear. An explosion in a bathroom on a Moscow-St. Petersburg train in 1997 killed five people.
The route between Russia's capital and its No. 2 city is heavily travelled by tourists and business people.
The 14-car train was carrying 633 passengers and 20 railway personnel, the emergencies ministry said.
Terrorism has been a major concern in Russia since the devastating wars pitting Chechen rebels against government forces in the 1990s. Violence stemming from those conflicts has repeatedly spread to other parts of Russia in the past decade, including deadly bombings in the Moscow subway and attacks that brought two passenger jets down in 2004.
But Russia has also been plagued by deadly accidents resulting from its deteriorating Soviet-era infrastructure and from negligence.
The derailment occurred near the border between the Novgorod and Tver provinces, about 250 miles (400 kilometres) northwest of Moscow and 150 miles (250 kilometres) southeast of St. Petersburg, authorities said.
Russian news agencies reported that some injured passengers were being taken by train and bus to hospitals in the area and to St. Petersburg for medical attention.

Organizations: Emergency Situations Ministry

Geographic location: Russia, MOSCOW, St. Petersburg Tver Novgorod

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