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India Says Fatal Train Crash Was Sabotage

December 23, 2002

HYDERABAD, India (AP) _ The weekend train derailment that killed 19 passengers in southern India was caused by a cut railroad line, a government forensics expert said Monday.

Seventy other people were injured when the Bangalore Express jumped the tracks while traveling from Hyderabad to Bangalore early Saturday. Seven cars and the locomotive went off the rails about 155 miles south of Hyderabad.

``We found iron particles at the spot and we’re trying to find out what implement was used to cut the rail,″ said K.P.C. Gandhi, director of the state’s Forensic Science Laboratory. ``It was deliberate sabotage.″

Gandhi did not comment on two large hacksaw-type blades that police dogs found Sunday in bushes near the sheared rail. P. Krishnaiah, spokesman of South-Central Railways, said cigarette butts also were found there and a large rock was placed at the spot where the rail was broken in two.

Earlier, state government officials and police said the accident in southern Andhra Pradesh state could have been caused by speeding or poor track maintenance, although the line was opened less than a year ago.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the crash. Maoist-Leninist militants are active in Andhra Pradesh, but they are not known to be active in the area of the accident, police said.

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