Saturday, December 28, 2013

Train fire kills 26 in India

Picture for representation purpose only
MUMBAI (AA) – At least 26 people, including two children were charred to death after an air-conditioned coach of India's Bangalore-Nanded Express train caught fire in the wee hours of Saturday morning, government officials said.
The express train was travelling from Bangalore, state capital of southern state Karnataka to Nanded in western state of Maharashtra.
The deadly incident occurred in D1 AC coach of the train numbered 16594 at around 3 a.m. near Prasanthi Nilayam ashram (centre for spiritual activity) in Anantapur district of southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) when most of the passengers were fast asleep. There were at least 64 passengers in the burned coach.  
Nine people were injured in the deadly blaze. The official cause of the fire is not known yet as railway officials are engaged in rescue and relief operations but it is suspected that the coach caught fire due to short circuit. 
The injured were rushed to Dharmavaram Hospital in the Anantapur district.
A senior railway official told Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity that a forensic team has left from Hyderabad, AP capital, to ascertain the cause of the accident and to collect DNA samples of the deceased as most of the dead bodies are beyond recognition.
Railway spokesperson CS Gupta told reporters that the affected coach was filled with black smoke causing suffocation.
“Most of those who died suffocated in the coaches that were filled with thick black smoke,” Gupta said.
A few passengers reportedly jumped out of the train on noticing fire.
Railways officials told AA that the blaze has been completely doused. The train had started its journey from Bangalore on Friday at 10.45 p.m.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock and grief at the tragedy and directed Railways and State government to extend all possible help to the victims.
AP Chief Minister Kumar Reddy has directed state officials to shift the injured to private hospitals in order to provide the best medical facility.
Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has announced a compensation package of $8300 for each of the deceased and $830 for the injured.  
This is the second railway accident in AP in the last two months.
On November 2, 10 people were killed and eight others injured when a speeding train mowed down passengers who had alighted from another train on the adjacent railway track at Gotlam station, 10 kilometers from Vizianagaram in the eastern part of the AP. 

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