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Train caught fire – Officials have retrieved at least 30 charred bodies

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Officials have retrieved at least 30 charred bodies from the S-11 coach of the Chennai-bound 12622 Tamil Nadu Express, which caught fire at 4.14 a.m., on Monday.

The mishap occurred between Nellore and Vedayapalem Railway Stations on Vijayawada-Gudur Section of Vijayawada Division. The train was just over a kilometre away from the Nellore station when flames leaped out of the coach. A passenger pulled the chain and halted the train.

There was no damage to the rest of the superfast train.

Police arrived on the spot within a few minutes and started rescue operations. Fire tenders were pressed into service, but the coach burned to a crisp within no time. The fire was put out by 5.20 a.m., an official release said.

The coach had 72 passengers in all. While 25 of them were rushed to the Nellore District Hospital, some of them were admitted to Bollineni Superspecialty hospital. A dozen or more passengers were said to have jumped out of the moving train even before it came to a stop.

The bogie was isolated and taken to platform no. 3 at the Nellore railway station. Rescue personnel used oxy-acytelane cutters to clear the bogie.

Witnesses speak

The coach largely comprised passengers from Jaipur, Chennai and Vijayawada. Many passengers boarded the coach from Vijayawada station.

Y. Sampath (23), a software engineer at Syntel had boarded the train with his sister. “I woke up after hearing loud screams. All I could see was black smoke,” he said while explaining the scene inside the coach. He managed to escape through one of the doors that was not locked. However, Sampath’s sister, Y. Ashwini (25), is missing. She is also a software professional, who is working in TCS.

Sambasiva Rao, a businessman, is admitted to Nellore District Hospital with 80 per cent burns. His wife Jhansi Rao has reached Nellore learning about the accident. Jhansi said, “My husband called me saying the bogie is burning. I rushed here immediately.” Hailing from Gudiwada, Krishna District, the couple reside in Chennai.

Another passenger Sukhadev Singh is also being treated for 80 per cent burns in the same hospital.

Railways and police are in the process of identifying the victims. Some of the passengers who are undergoing treatment at the District Hospital are: Verma, Raghav Nagar; Venkata Koteshwara Rao, Vijayawada; Hussain, Tirunelveli; Raghavan, Chennai; K.K. Sunil Kumar, Delhi; Harsha, Chennai; and Sandeep Agnihotri, Jaipur.

District Collector B. Sridhar, Superintendent of Police B.V. Ramana Kumar and railway officials were at the spot, monitoring the operations. Though the reason for the fire is not officially revealed, sources blame short circuit inside the coach.

The railways has announced an enhanced ex-gratia of Rs. 5 lakh to the kin of each passenger who died in the mishap. Normal train traffic on the Nellore-Gudur section was restored by 8.30 a.m. and all trains on the section were said to be running on schedule. – The Hindu