At least 47 passengers were charred to death and 25 others injured when a fire broke in a coach of the Chennai-bound Tamil Nadu Express near Nellore early this morning after a suspected short circuit. Twenty-six passengers were rescued from the coach S 11 which was completely gutted, Nellore Collector Sridhar said.
As the train was passing through Nellore, which is about 150 km from Chennai, some people noticed the fire and informed railway authorities. "The death toll in the affected coach will be around 30-35," he said. Rescue workers have recovered 12 bodies while efforts were on to retrieve others from the compartment.
The coach had around 70 seats.
List of passengers injured in the fire | Complete list of those travelling in the train
"There was a short circuit near the toilet and the train was moving at a speed of 110 kms per hour. It was going to Chennai from Delhi. All the passengers were asleep when the fire broke out at 4:30 am. People were not able to come out immediately," he said.
"The fire spread fast and the passengers could not come out through one of the doors because of the fire. So the other edge of the coach was to be used. Some people could come out and others succumbed to death," he said.
The bodies have been charred so it is difficult to identify them, Sridhar said.
15 passengers are believed to have jumped down from the burning compartment. A total of 72 passengers were travelling in the reserved compartment.
A witness told reporters that many were trapped inside when the flames engulfed the compartment. "I was lucky to come out but many passengers could not escape as two doors were jammed and the smoke spread fast," said Sudhir. Fire fighting personnel extinguished the fire and rescue workers were using gas cutters and other equipment to retrieve the bodies.
Ambulances were pressed into service to shift the injured to hospital. Top officials including district collector and superintendent of police rushed to the scene and supervised rescue and relief work. The district collector said burning bogie was detached to prevent the fire from spreading to other compartments.
He quoted some witnesses as saying that the fire was caused by short circuit near the toilet.
As the train was not moving at full speed, some passengers either entered the adjoining compartment or jumped down. However, those sleeping on the upper berths could not escape as the smoke spread fast and even the doors were not opening.
Meanwhile, railway minister Mukul Roy has ordered an inquiry into the Tamil Nadu Express fire mishap and announced an exgratia payment of Rs. five lakh each for the next of the kin of those killed in the incident.
He also announced a payment of Rs. one lakh each for those who were grievously injured and Rs. 25,000 for those who suffered simple injuries.
The inquiry by D K Singh, Commissioner of Railway Safety of South-Central Circle, will look into the cause of the mishap near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.
Railway Ministry spokesperson Anil Saxena said relief has been despatched through the accident relief medical train from Bitragunda station.
Fire brigade from Nellore reached the site and extinguished the fire, he said, adding Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal along with senior officials have rushed to the accident site.
A special train has been arranged for carrying relatives of affected passengers from Chennai to Nellore. Saxena said Railways has instructed General Managers of all zones to exercise extra vigil and launch a special safety drive regarding precautions to be taken to avoid recurrence of such accidents. (Source: Hindustan Times)
The list of the injured:
At Government Hospital, Nellore:
1) KK Sunil Kumar, New Delhi-Chennai
2) Amarpreet Singh, New Delhi-Chennai (S11-57)
3) Venkata Koteshwar Rao, Vijayawada-Chennai (S11-32)
4) Raghavan, Bhopal-Chennai
5) Sandeep Agnihotri, New Delhi-Chennai
6) SS Verma (S11-22)
7) Veena, along with Baby Arshitha of 1year age, New Delhi-Chennai (S11-63)
8) Hussain, New Delhi-Chennai (S11-47)
9) Rekha, New Delhi-Chennai (S11-5)
10) Sukhdeep Singh (S11-59)
11) Sambasiva Rao
At Peoples Polyclinic, Nellore:
1) V Krushi, Vijayawada-Chennai (S11-27)
2) C Vijaya Kumar, Warangal-Chennai (S11-24)
At Jayabharath Hospital, Nellore:
1) S Prakash Singh, Jhansi-Chennai (S11-33)
2) Shoba Singh, Jhansi-Chennai (S11-36)
3) Ch Udaya bhaskar, Vijayawada-Chennai (S11-62)
4) G Ramchandra Srinivas, Warangal-Chennai (S11-67)
5) Kumud Kumar Bansal, Agra-Chennai (S11-16)
6) Prasamsa Bansal, Agra-Chennai (S11-13)
7) M Sujanmal Sarada Parekh, New Delhi-Chennai (S12-12)
At Bolineni Hospital, Nellore:
1) S Madanlal
2) Uttam Kumar
5) Sampath Kumar