A powerful bomb derailed a speeding express train halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg on Friday night killing at least 26 people and wounding nearly 100, said officials.

The Nevsky Express carrying 660 passengers and 29 railway personnel was traveling at 200 km per hour when an explosion hurled three rear cars off the tracks at 9:36 p.m. Moscow time.

Rescue workers had to use cranes to cut through the badly wrecked carriages that carried a total of 202 passengers. Some reports said as many as 39 people might have died. Eighteen passengers were still unaccounted for as of Saturday evening. Officials said they could have left the site of the accident on their own.

Indian missing

An Indian, Rajesh R, holder of passport 33 E 1906224, was on the list of the Nevsky Express passengers released by the Russian Railways. In all probability the man is safe as he was travelling in a carriage that suffered no damage.

Prosecutors have opened a terrorism investigation after fragments of an explosive device equivalent to 7 kg of TNT were found near the tracks. Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin said the derailment closely resembled a similar incident two years ago when another Nevsky Express train was wrecked by a bomb blast in the same area. Nobody died in that accident. Authorities blamed the attack on Chechen terrorists and arrested two suspects who are currently undergoing trial.

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