Thirty two people were reportedly killed and several others injured in a fire that broke out in the Tamil Nadu Express train early Monday in Andhra Pradesh.
According to reports, one of the coaches of the New Delhi-Chennai bound train caught fire minutes after it passed through Nellore railway station, 450 km from the Hyderabad capital. The train was immediately stopped after the station manager noticed the fire in the S11 coach. The incident reportedly happened around 4:30 am in the morning, officials said.
Railway authorities immediately alerted the fire brigade, who rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire. Most of the passengers from the train were evacuated and other bogies were unaffected.
The affected coach carried around 70 passengers, 20 of whom were believed to have jumped off to escape the blaze. The injured were rushed to Nellore civic hospital.
The bodies of those killed in the fire were burnt beyond identification and the death toll is expected to rise. Reports said that most of the passengers were asleep at the time of the accident and could not escape as the doors of the coach were jammed.
"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," Nellore District Collector Sridhar told NDTV.
Rescue teams detached the gutted coach from the train and had to use special equipment to break in and recover the bodies. Reports said that the fire may have been caused by a short circuit near the toilet of the coach.
Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy will soon arrive in Nellore to analyse the situation. A special train for rescue operations reportedly left Chennai at around 9:30 am.
Those seeking information about the accident can call the help desk at the Chennai Central Station and at Nellore. The numbers provided are: 044-25357398, 044-25330821, 0861-2345863, 864, 865, 866 and 0866-2576924.
Relatives of the victims in Delhi can call these helpline numbers provided by the Northern Railway: 011-23342954, 23341072, 23341074 and 011-24359748.