13 tankers catch fire following landmine blast in Bihar

Motihari, May 20 : Maoist depredations continued unabated as the red rebels today blasted landmines reducing to ashes 13 tankers of a goods train carrying diesel near Chintawanpur village under Muzaffarpur Motihari rail division of East Central Railways (ECR) within three days of their Dantewada and Lalgarh mayhem.

Additional Director General of Police S K Bharadwaj said, ''It was the handiwork of the Maoists and a massive combing operation will be launched from tonight itself. '' ADRM M Biswas said the Maoists exploded the landmine as soon as the goods train started proceeding towards Pipra railway station and arrived near Cintawanpur, three km from Pipra around 0125 hrs.

He said out of 48 bogies filled with diesel being transported to Gonda of Uttar Pradesh from Assam via Barauni, 13 caught fire and were reduced to ashes.

The railway officials, however, managed to detach 35 bogies and drove them far away from the spot, he said, adding the railway tracks of about 40 feet length were damaged.

Four fire tenders - two from Motihari and one each from Bettiah and Muzaffarpur - fought for several hours to douse the flames at 1600 hrs. Senior officers and technocrats from Indian Oil Corporation also assisted the railway personnel in putting out the flames.

Mr Biswas said each of the wagons was filled with 65,000 litre of diesel and about 8,45,000 litre of diesel were burnt in the blast.

The railway traffic on the division got paralysed following the incident, he said and informed that train services might resume tomorrow afternoon after repairing of the damaged tracks.

All the long route trains had been diverted, while the local trains had been cancelled, he informed.

Earlier, the Maoists had given 48-hour bandh call in five states, including Bihar and Jharkhand, which began on Tuesday midnight.

The Maoists massacred 31 people, including several security personnel, at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on Monday and killed five CRPF personnel, including one Deputy Commandant, yesterday at Lalgarh in West Midnapore district by triggering landmines.