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26 killed, 15 injured in Banglore-Nanded train blaze news
28 December 2013

Some 26 people, including two children, were feared dead and 15 others were injured after a fire swept through an AC coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express, near a minor railway station in Anantapuram district of Andhra Pradesh in the wee hours of today.

Passengers told TV channels they were sleeping when somebody noticed smoke in the B1 AC coach at around 3.30 am, and pulled the emergency chain to stop the train. Passengers then climbed out of the train in the pitch dark as the fire raged through the bogie.

''Rescue operations are under way,'' Anantapur district collector Lokesh Kumar told reporters, adding that 23 persons, including two children were ''charred to death in the accident".

CS Gupta, a spokesperson for South-Western Railway, confirmed 15 deaths and said casualties could rise. Gupta said most passengers seemed to have been choked to death in the smoke that engulfed the coach. A railway police superintendent said the 15 injured have been taken to various hospitals in Anantpur.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock and grief over the loss of lives in the mishap. He also spoke to railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge and inquired about the rescue and relief work.

Describing the incident as "tragic" and "most unfortunate", Kharge on his part ordered an enquiry into the incident by the Commissioner of Railway Safety. He also announced a compensation of Rs5 lakh for the dead and Rs50,000 for the injured.

The train had left Bangalore at 10:45 pm on Friday for Nanded in Gujarat. The 'killer coach' had about 64 passengers on board, mostly from Karnataka.

Sananda Aruna, additional divisional railway manager, said identifying the dead would take time because the passenger lists were burnt.

"It is a frightening scene inside the coach. Many are charred, beyond recognition, to death," said Andhra Pradesh revenue minister Raghuveera Reddy.

Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar said the reason behind the accident is yet to be ascertained, but the magnitude of the accident suggests a short circuit.

The incident once again brings into focus the increasingly shoddy maintenance of tracks and rolling stock by the Indian Railways in order to dangerously cut corners on costs, which this writer has highlighted more than once.

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26 killed, 15 injured in Banglore-Nanded train blaze