At least 25 people are reported to have died and 63 more injured after a Russian express train traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg derailed, according to emergency officials cited by RIA Novosti news agency.
The train left the Russian capital at 7 p.m. and went off the tracks in the Tver region, about halfway into the 4.5-hour journey.
Sources report a small crater below the rails where the carriages of the Nevsky Express came off.
The Emergency Ministry said a power outage may have been a possible cause for the crash. Also being looked at are problems with the track. Meanwhile, a terrorism investigation has been launched.
Alive people are reported being blocked under the derailed carriages.
A phone hotline for relatives and friends of the passengers is now operating.
The numbers are:
- in St. Peterburg +7 812 457 4905
- +7 812 436 8813,
- in Moscow +7 495 626 3707.
The cursed route
It is not the first time such an accident has occurred on the Moscow-St. Petersburg route. On August 13, 2007 a “Nevsky Express” train was derailed in Novgorod region, injuring 60 out of 251 passengers. An explosive device loaded with the equivalent of 2 kilograms of TNT was placed under the rails on a bridge, in an attempt to crash the train into a river below. But the air pressure from the approaching train activated the self-made bomb earlier than planned, derailing 13 carriages after the express passed out of control over the bridge. Two men from Ingushetia were charged with transporting material for the bomb to Novgorod region; one of them is on the federal wanted list for assembling and placing the explosive device under the rail.
In December 2003, an explosion tore through a morning commuter train in the southern Stavropol Region, killing nearly 50 people. Two years later, a passenger train heading from Chechnya to Moscow derailed about 150 km from the Russian capital. 42 people were injured.
Another serious rail accident, although not connected to terrorism, happened in June 2008. 12 people were hurt when a passenger train collided with a freight train in southwest Russia.