Jharkhand train fire kills 7

Oz woman among dead; railway minister suspects miscreants

Jharkhand train fire kills 7

The 72 passengers were asleep around 3 am in the B-1 AC coach when flames engulfed it. In no time, the fire swept through the B-2 coach, causing panic among the passengers. The coaches were burnt completely. Most occupants managed to escape, but seven were burnt to death. Many others suffered varying degrees of burns.

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi told reporters in Delhi that he would not rule out involvement of miscreants in the incident. The area is considered to be a stronghold of Maoists for long.

The dead are S K Allone alias Kati Scanlan, Archita Thakur (4), Mahjuvi Ali Akhtar (8), Dr Anumita Singh (25) and Usha Nagar. Allone was one of the four researchers from Australia travelling by the train to the Buddhist holy city of Bodh Gaya.

M S Rose alias Pshiopi, C M Joseph alias Naomi and S B Ezone alias Proywyn Smith from Australia were among the injured.

The fire was spotted between Gomoh and Nimiaghat railway stations, said Sashi Kumar, Divisional Commandant, Railway Protection Force.

Shaukat Ali, a passenger who lost his daughter Mahjuvi in the accident, told reporters that he woke up to flames, smoke and commotion in the B-1 coach.

He said a passenger pulled the chain to stop the train and helped many of occupants of the two coaches, numbering 128, to get out.

According to Ali, the fire broke out around 2.30 am, while another passenger said the train was then approaching the Jain pilgrim centre at Pareshnath.

Train services were partially affected. The line was cleared from Gomoh at 8:30 am when the rear coaches of the train were taken to Pareshnath station for attachment with the front portion. The East Central Railway arranged two AC 3-tier coaches at Gaya.

The Commissioner Railway Safety, Eastern Circle, has been asked to probe the incident and submit a report.  “The cause of the incident is being probed from all possible angles, including miscreant activity, in cooperation with the state government. A statutory inquiry into the incident will be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Eastern Circle, under the Ministry of Civil Aviation,” Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi informed Parliament on Tuesday.

He said the general managers of all zonal railways have been instructed to exercise extra vigil and launch a special safety drive regarding precautions to be taken to avoid recurrence of such accidents.

Trivedi announced Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of the dead and Rs 25,000 each for the passengers of the two coaches. The Railway Helpline numbers are: 033-26413660, 033-26402243 and 032-62220518.

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