NEW DELHI: Two trains collided after a blast hit a passenger train and flung it into the path of a speeding goods train in eastern India on Friday, killing at least 25 people, government officials said, reports Reuters.
One local government official said the toll could go up to "anywhere around 50-60" because many passengers were trapped inside mangled coaches.
The incident occurred in an area known to be a stronghold of Maoist rebels. A railway spokesman said sabotage was suspected, but the involvement of the Maoists has yet to be confirmed.
"At this stage I can confirm 25 deaths," Manoj Kumar, a railway official, told Reuters.
"The toll will be much higher. We can give a final figure only after rescue operations are complete. We have to cut open the compartments and bring out bodies."
A reporter of the Telegraph newspaper described a scene of chaos and panic at the site.
"People are crying. Rescuers are struggling to save the survivors and get the bodies out," Naresh Jana told Reuters.
"I can see body parts hanging out of the compartments and under the wheels. I can hear people, women, crying for help from inside the affected coaches."
The incident comes days after a passenger airliner crashed in southern India, killing 158 people.
The passenger train was going to Mumbai from the eastern metropolis of Kolkata in West Bengal state. The incident occurred in the state's Jhargram area.
"The blast derailed 13 coaches of the Gyaneshwari Express. These coaches then fell on the other track where a goods train rammed into some of them," Soumitra Majumdar, a railway spokesman told Reuters.
Majumdar said sabotage was suspected because the passenger train had been hit by a blast.
The Maoist rebels, who often attack police, government buildings and infrastructure such as railway stations, have in recent months stepped up attacks in response to a government security offensive to clear them out of their jungle bases.
The rebels blew up a bus in the mineral-rich state of Chhattisgarh this month, killing 35 people, about a month after 76 police were killed in another attack.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the insurgency as India's biggest internal security challenge.The decades-old movement is now present in a third of the country and while they have made few inroads into cities, they have spread into rural pockets of up to 28 states and hurt potential business worth billions of dollars. Read the full story on dawn.com