At least 190 dead after 8 India railway blasts

NEW DELHI – With frightening precision, eight explosions in rapid succession struck a busy commuter railway in Bombay during the Tuesday evening rush hour, killing at least 190 people, injuring hundreds more and turning the rush hour into a grisly tableau of carnage.

In what officials said was a well-coordinated terrorist attack on India’s financial capital – also known as Mumbai – the eight blasts went off within minutes of each other in trains’ first-class cars and on the platforms at or near seven stations along the rail line.

The force of the explosions reduced some carriages to smoking heaps of mangled metal, blew others apart, and scattered luggage and body parts along the tracks.

Some passengers reportedly jumped from speeding trains in panic.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, and authorities did not say whether the explosions were set off by remote or caused by suicide bombers.

Suspicion immediately fell on such militant groups in connection with Tuesday’s near-simultaneous explosions, a method known to be favored by Kashmiri extremists.

The Press Trust of India news agency said early today that police had increased the toll to 190 killed and 625 injured.

Confusion reigned for hours as police and ambulances scrambled to reach the blast sites, hampered by Bombay’s nightmarish traffic and the heavy rains of the monsoon season. Television footage showed victims trying to help each other or pressing handkerchiefs against their own bleeding wounds.

Emergency crews struggled to treat survivors and recover the dead in the wreckage, and the effort stretched into the night. Survivors clutched bandages to their heads and faces, and some frantically tried to use their cell phones. Luggage and debris were spattered with blood.

Bystanders pulled the wounded from the debris, offering them water and bundling them into every available vehicle – from trucks to three-wheeled auto-rickshaws.

Others wrapped bodies in railway blankets and carried them away. Police collected body parts in white plastic bags streaked with blood and rain.

The mobile phone network collapsed, adding to the sense of panic across the city. With train services down until midnight, thousands of people were stranded without any way of reaching their families.

Only hours before the Bombay blasts, grenade attacks in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, killed eight Indian tourists. It was not known whether the events in Srinagar and Bombay were directly connected.

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