Home-made bomb derails Russian express, killing 26

Death toll expected to rise, as police search for men who planted device on Moscow-St Petersburg track

A home-made bomb is believed to have caused the derailment of the Nevsky Express train between Moscow and St Petersburg on Friday night that killed at least 26 people, and injured more than 100, many of them seriously. The death toll is expected to rise to around 40.

The bomb blew a five-foot crater in the tracks as the train passed at a speed of up to 130mph, detaching and overturning the three rear carriages.

The head of Russia's FSB security service said that the bomb was equivalent to 15lbs of TNT, and a spokesman for the Investigative Committee confirmed that traces of the device had been found at the site.

A second bomb partially exploded at the crash site yesterday afternoon as railway workers cleared the debris, according to Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin.

A criminal investigation has begun, with Interior Ministry personnel searching for suspects hiding in nearby villages. One was thought to be a red-haired man aged about 40.

The 14-car train, packed with more than 650 passengers, was speeding through forests when the disaster happened late on Friday, 250 miles northwest of Moscow and 150 miles southeast of St Petersburg. The train lights went out and it screeched to a halt.

Passengers told Russian media of carnage in the final three carriages. People had been "shaken up like a box of matches", said one passenger from the front of the train who had gone back to help in the rescue. "In the last carriage people and seats were thrown together and entangled; there were horrible injuries." One woman, Yekaterina Ivanova, said she was trapped for four hours as rescuers sought to free her. Injured passengers huddled around fires as they waited to be taken to local hospitals, which struggled to cope with the load. All but the most critical were removed yesterday to hospitals in St Petersburg or Moscow.

The line between the two cities is the busiest in Russia, with dozens of trains a day making the trip, many of them overnight. The Nevsky Express is a fast, premium train, making the journey in four and a half hours, and on a Friday evening would have been mainly filled with business travellers returning to St Petersburg. These trains are the fastest and most expensive in Russia, and the pride of Russian Railways. In just two weeks' time, a ceremonial launch was planned for a new, super-fast train on this route.

As far as terrorism goes, the most likely perpetrators would be Islamic rebels linked to the Chechen separatist movement, although authorities are refusing to speculate and no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. In August, a Chechen rebel website published a letter from a group claiming links to separatist leader Doku Umarov, stating that groups of fighters had been dispatched across Russia to target power stations, oil pipelines, and other key infrastructure as part of an "economic war".

A bomb blast on the same line derailed a train in 2007, injuring 27, and a court case into that is in progress. But this would be the first fatal act of terrorism in Russia outside the North Caucasus for years. Murders, hostage-takings and bombs are frequent in Chechnya and neighbouring territories, but the last time rebels struck a fatal blow outside the region was in 2004. Then, two planes leaving Moscow were blown up by suicide bombers, while another blew himself up on a crowded metro train. Russians will hope this attack, if a Chechen link is confirmed, does not signal the start of a renewed campaign of terror aimed at the country's very heartland.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £38,000

£22000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role is a mixture of office...

Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

£17100 - £20900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Assistant

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests