Kalpana Sharma

Death toll rises to 186; hundreds continue their search for missing relatives

Hundreds continue the search for missing relatives We did as much as we could: Mumbai police Investigation handed over to Anti-Terrorist Squad

MUMBAI: Just 12 hours after seven serial blasts left a trail of death and woes, Mumbai moved towards normality on Wednesday.

Photo Gallery: Mumbai Suburban Train Blasts: The Day After

Even as the day broke over a city that has still to recover from Tuesday terror, trains began running on the very tracks where bombs ripped through carriages. And office goers, school and college students and workers made their way to different parts of the city.

The aftermath of the bombings, however, hung heavy on the city, as hundreds of people continued their weary search for missing relatives and family members.

The scenes at various government and municipal hospitals were heart-rending as scores of people waited for news about the identity of the injured and those killed. Many of the bodies in morgues had not been identified.

Director General of Police P.S. Pasricha told the media that 186 people had died and 772 injured. Information centres, manned by senior officials, had been set up at hospitals. "Mumbai people have shown their big hearts," he said referring to the way people helped those injured.

Mr. Pasricha refused to hazard a guess about who was responsible for the bombings. He said the investigation had been handed over to the Anti-Terrorist Squad and samples from the targeted coaches sent to the Central Forensic Laboratory. He said he would not speculate about the nature of the explosive used although it did appear to be RDX, given the intensity of the blasts.

Asked whether the bombings reflected an intelligence failure, he said, "We are not super human beings." The police had some idea that Mumbai would be a target. "We did as much as we could," he said, and referred to the police interception of supplies of RDX and guns in Nashik, Aurangabad and Malegaon two months back.

Mr. Pasricha said security had been enhanced all over the State. The Central Reserve Police Force and the Rapid Action Force had also been deployed.

Tracks repaired

The most important factor that led to a semblance of normality on Wednesday was the speed with which the suburban train network was restored. On any ordinary day, this network transports an estimated six million people. Without it, the city cannot move. Western Railway officials told The Hindu that within three hours of the first of the seven bomb blasts, a skeletal suburban rail service was started.

From just before 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, services were run from Churchgate to Bandra and later to Andheri. As a result, stranded people had some chance to get back to their homes.

By 1.20 a.m., the Railways had begun the work of removing the rakes with the shattered carriages that were stationary at the different stations.

The job was completed by a little before 6 a.m.. As a result, by 6.30 a.m., the suburban rail network had begun functioning partially with trains running at 15 minute intervals.

By 10 a.m., normal services were resumed. However, the number of people was fewer on Wednesday than normal.

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