26 killed, several injured as Bangalore-Nanded Express coach catches fire
As many as 26 passengers were killed and eight others suffered injuries when a major fire broke out in an air-conditioned coach of the 16594 Bangalore-Nanded Express shortly after it left the Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam station in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh early today, official sources said.
Three of the injured persons were discharged after first aid while the other five were admitted to nearby hospitals for treatment, they said.
They said those killed in the mishap included 24 adults and two children. All the bodies were charred beyond recognition and were, therefore, sent to the Victoria Hospital in Bangalore for DNA profiling to help in the identiication process.
The Railway authorities were also trying to contact passengers by calling up the numbers given in their reservation requests.
A total of 65 passengers were said to be travelling in the ill-fated coach.
The train had left Bangalore at 2245 hours last night and had left Satya Sai Prasanathi Nilayam station when a fire broke out in a 3-Tier coach (B1) around 0335 hours today.
Fire tenders from Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam reached the spot and helped to put out the flames. A medical relief van reached the scene by 0445 hours, railway officials said.
Senior railway and district administration officials, including police, had also rushed to the spot.
Most of the passengers were asleep when the fire broke out, the sources said. Many of them managed to escape after pulling the emergency chain and jumping out of the coach.
The Railways have ordered a probe into the incident to establish the cause of the fire.
Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, who was in Gulbarga, Karnataka, announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakhs to the next-of-kin of those killed in the mishap, Rs 1 lakh for the seriously injured and Rs 50,000 to those who suffered minor injuries.
Mr Kharge said the Railways would bear the full cost of the medical treatment of the injured passengers.
The Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, Ministry of Civil Aviation will conduct a statutory inquiry into the accident.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock and grief at the loss of lives in the incident and directed the Railwas and State Government authorities to extend all possible help to the victims in the rescue and relief operations.
Dr Singh called up Mr Kharge to enquire about the action being taken for rescue and relief work at the accident site, official sources said.