Thursday 19 October 2017

Fire kills 47 on Indian sleeper train

A totally charred coach from inside is seen of a passenger train at Nellor nearly 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Hyderabad, India. Photo: Getty Images
A totally charred coach from inside is seen of a passenger train at Nellor nearly 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Hyderabad, India. Photo: Getty Images

Omer Farooq in Hyderabad

A fire swept through a train car packed with sleeping passengers in southern India on Monday, killing at least 47 people and sending panicked survivors rushing for the only clear exit once the train stopped, officials said.

Investigators found charred remains of victims still in their sleeping berths and were struggling to identify them.

A railway station worker noticed the burning coach as the overnight train from New Delhi to the southeastern city of Chennai passed through the town of Nellore at about 4am, local official B. Sridhar said.

Once the alarm was raised, the train was stopped and the coach was detached from the rest of the train to prevent the blaze from spreading.

Passengers were evacuated once the train was halted.

"Since the fire had engulfed one door of the coach, people had to rush to the other end of the coach to exit," Sridhar said from the accident site.

Passengers said the fire spread swiftly through the coach.

"People were still sleeping, but once they realised the danger they scrambled to the door," Shantanu, a passenger in the coach, told New Delhi Television.

The blaze killed 47 people, said Anil Kumar, a regional railway manager. At least 28 others were hospitalised with burns.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims.

Around 20 million Indians travel by train every day.

Irish Independent

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