People crowd around the derailed train where 80 people are reported dead after the train jumped the tracks and plunged into a river at Rafiganj. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

2002 At least 80 people were reported to have died and over 170 injured in one of India’s worst rail accidents when a bogey of a luxury superfast train of Kolkata-New Delhi plunged into a river, and left two others hanging precariously from a bridge. The Rajdhani Express, a luxury air-conditioned train, was a mass of mangled, twisted metal after it derailed on a bridge in the eastern state of Bihar, near Rafiganj. 67 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage and 13 other injured died in hospitals in three nearby towns. Indian Railway minister, Nitish Kumar said that “sabotage” could be the cause of the accident as fishplates had been removed close to the scene of the accident. But the Bihar state government and other railway officials in Kolkata ruled out “sabotage” on such a high density railway traffic route. The train was carrying 535 passengers and 70 railway staff when it derailed. It was running at a speed of about 130kph.

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