25 dead in Assam gas leak

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Guwahati, Sep 20 (UNI) At least 25 people, including two NSCN ultras, died and around 40 fell seriously ill after inhaling a poisonous gas when they were pilfering crude oil from a goods train at Chaiding in Karbi Anglong district early today.

While the Assam Police confirmed the deaths of 15 people, their Nagaland counterpart informed that more than 6 people, including two NSCN cadres--mastermind behind the organised racket, died.

Official sources said a group of 70 miscreants from the area forcibly halted a goods train at Chaiding, between Dhansiri and Rangapahar, in the wee hours and tried to unload crude oil from a wagon.

The incident took place between Dimapur(Nagaland) and Diphu railway stations in a dense jungle.

''The NSCN rebels have a strong presence near the area and control the organised racket,'' Assam police sources said.

As they started opening the wagon full of high density Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) the nozzle exploded killing more than 15 people on the spot, the sources informed.

Some of the bodies were found lying at a distance as the people tried to flee after inhaling the poisonous high density ATF.

More than 40 others who had gathered to steal crude oil fell seriously ill.

According to Dimapur Superintendent of Police Liremo Lotha, more than six people were feared dead inside Nagaland as the incident occurred on the Nagaland-Assam border.

Some of the seriously ill people were rushed to Dimapur civil hospital while others had been admitted to Dhansiri civil hospital.

Twenty bodies had been recovered so far but some bodies were lifted before dawn, sources added.

The police informed that Railway employees were involved in the incident as an organized crime syndicate had been operating for a long time in stealing crude oil from the wagons that were coming from oil fields of upper Assam.

EDS:Here pick up suitably from earlier series.

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