32 dead, 25 injured in Andhra train fire
At least 32 people were charred to death and 25 others were injured when a fire broke out in a coach of the Chennai-bound Tamil Nadu Express early Monday morning near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, officials said.
"The number of death is 32 and 25 others are injured. Of them seven are in serious condition," Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena told IBNS in New Delhi.
He said the exact cause of the fire is being investigated though one eye witness, a gateman, said he had heard a loud explosion inside the coach which caught fire.
He said there could have been some inflammable object inside but "we are not linking it to terror attack now."
"There was an unfortunate incident of fire in train no. 12622 New Delhi-Chennai Tamilnadu Express at Nellore station (Andhra Pradesh) of Vijayawada Division of South Central Railway at about 0422 hours today i.e. 30th July 2012. While the train was on run, fire broke out in Sleeper Class Coach S-11, positioned 20th from train engine," said a statement issued by Ministry of Railways on Monday evening.
"As a result of the fire, this coach got completely burnt. As per latest information received, 32 passengers lost their lives in this unfortunate incident, 25 passengers with burn injuries have been admitted to Government Hospital, Nellore and a nearby private hospital. The dead bodies are yet to be identified," it said.
According to reports, while the train was passing Nellore Station, Gateman of Level Crossing Gate noticed the fire in S-11 coach and informed Dy. Station Superintendent of Nellore who managed to stop the train after the Old South Cabin of Nellore Station.
Medical relief was immediately dispatched through Accident Relief Medical Train from Bitragunta station.
Fire Brigades from Nellore reached the site and extinguished the fire.
"General Manager, South Central Railway from Secunderabad and Divisional Railway Manager, Vijayawada has rushed to the site along with team of officers to supervise the relief and rescue operations. Helpline numbers were also set up at important stations all along the route of the ill-fated train," said the Ministry.
A special train carrying relatives of affected passengers was also arranged from Chennai to Nellore.
Railway Minister Mukul Roy rushed to the accident site from Kolkata.
"I have ordered an inquiry into the matter so that the reason behind the incident could be realized," Roy told media before leaving Kolkata on Monday.
"We need to improve the technology," he said.
Minister of State for Railways K. H. Muniyappa reached the accident site from Kolar, Karnataka, while Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal and Member Electrical Kul Bhushan rushed to the accident site from Delhi by first available flight.
Roy expressed his deep grief over the 'loss of innocent lives in this unfortunate tragedy'.
He announced an enhanced ex-gratia amount of Rs. 5 lakh to the next of the kin of each deceased, Rs. 1 lakh for grievously injured and Rs. 25,000 for simple injured passenger of the affected coach on humanitarian ground.
"The cause of the incident is yet to be ascertained. Statutory inquiry into this incident will be conducted by Shri D. K. Singh, Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), South Central Circle, under the Ministry of Civil Aviation," said the ministry.
"The General Manger of all Zonal Railways are being instructed to exercise extra vigil as well as launch a special safety drive regarding precautions to be taken to avoid recurrence of such accidents," it said.
Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has expressed shock and anguish at the tragedy and is expected to leave for Nellore to take stock of the situation.
Secunderabad: 040-27786723, 27700868; Vijayawada: 0866-2345863, 2345864 and Nellore: 0861-2331477, 2576924; New Delhi: 011-23342954, 23341072, 23341074; Hazrat Nizamuddin: 011-24359748