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26 dead in Indian train fire

Indian train fireNearly 26 people are reportedly dead due to a fire that broke out in an overnight express train in southern Andhra Pradesh, India. The estimated death toll includes two children. The fire is said to have taken place in an air-conditioned carriage of the ‘Nanded-Bangalore Express’ around three in the morning Indian time, possibly due to an electrical short circuit.

A spokesman for the railways, C.S. Gupta, had said that 67 passengers were in the train carriage when the fire started on Saturday morning. The train had been headed for Nanded in the western state of Maharashtra from the southern city of Bangalore.

“We were all asleep. All of a sudden, we all woke up to a burning sensation,” said a survivor, Sharad. “There was chaos. We realized the bogie [carriage] was burning.” He added that he had broken a glass window in a toilet cabin to help three people escape but that he could not save his wife and uncle.

According to officials, the train had been stopped and the carriage separated from the rest of the train to avoid the fire from spreading. While many had died due to suffocation by breathing in the black fumes of the fire, others suffered injuries due to jumping off the train. According to reports, firefighters are said to have found heaps of bodies lying near the locked doors of the carriage.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his “shock and grief at the loss of life in the train accident in Andhra Pradesh” on his official Twitter account. The statement also said that “The prime minister directs railway and state government authorities to extend all possible help to the victims in rescue and relief operations.”

According to Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, initial indications suggest an electrical short circuit could be to blame for the blaze. However, an investigation is under way. The exact number of victims of the tragedy still remains uncertain.

 

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