Fire kills 32 on Indian express train

Thirty-two people were killed Monday when an overnight fire ripped through a coach of an express train as it carried sleeping passengers to the southern Indian city of Chennai, officials said.

The accident, on a long-distance service from New Delhi, occurred in the early hours of the morning near the town of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh state with an electrical short-circuit seen as the most likely cause.

Images showed dozens of rescuers, survivors and crowds of onlookers milling around as the blackened and twisted bodies of victims, some burnt beyond recognition, were lifted out and laid in rows alongside the railway line.

Family members of the victims wailed and screamed, while other dazed survivors sat around quietly with their belongings.

"I woke up when people were rushing into our compartment, I was in S-10 which was attached to the S-11 coach that caught fire," passenger Shantanu, who gave only one name, told the NDTV news channel.

"There was smoke all around. We tried to open the emergency window, people jumped out of it."

The central government press office said that 32 people had lost their lives and 25 had been injured, with 500,000 rupees (9,000 dollars) offered to the families of the deceased.

Nellore chief district official B. Sreedhar said preliminary investigations suggested a short circuit near a toilet had triggered the blaze, while Railway Minister Mukul Roy said an investigation was underway.

"Nothing can be excluded and nothing can be said without an investigation," Roy told reporters shortly before rescue officials wrapped up their nearly 12-hour search for bodies.

The train was travelling at 110 kilometres per hour (70 miles per hour) when it passed through Nellore station, where staff noticed the fire and informed the railway authorities.

The burning carriage was quickly detached from the rest of the train which prevented the fire from spreading.

India's accident-prone rail network is still the main form of long-distance travel in the huge country despite fierce competition from private airlines.

While new shiny airport infrastructure is springing up, the Indian railways -- a much-romanticised legacy of British colonial rule -- often appear stuck in a time-warp.

There were two fatal accidents this May alone, including a collision that killed 25 people near the southern city of Bangalore. Four passengers also died after a train derailed in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent his condolences over the deaths and has asked the national railways ministry to coordinate the relief effort, his office said.

In March, the then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi unveiled a draft budget for 2012-13 that included a major safety upgrade to be financed by across-the-board fare hikes.

But he was forced to withdraw it and resign after a rebellion from his own populist party, the Trinamool Congress, which objected to increasing ticket prices for the poorest travellers.

The National Crime Records Bureau, which gathers the causes of fatalities across India, says 25,705 people in total died on the railways in 2009.

The data is not broken down, but a vast majority of these deaths are people falling from the open doors of carriages or being hit on the tracks, which are mostly unsecured.

India's worst rail accident was in 1981 when a train plunged into a river in the eastern state of Bihar, killing an estimated 800 people.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf
    Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered the sustained campaign against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the successive offensives against the armed groups last week. A total of 24 Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in recent clashes in Sulu last week. The Joint Task Group Sulu has received information that Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron was wounded during one of the encounters but this is …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options