For victims, Tatkal proved the highway to hell

For victims, Tatkal proved the highway to hell

With the inner furnishings nothing more than twisted rubble and two gaping holes in the place of its emergency exit, the S11 coach of the Tamil Nadu Express, which was shunted into the Nellore station, appeared a showpiece of hell.

Ironically, the system created to fast-track passengers to their destinations was in this instance hauling passengers towards the highway to hell.

A quick glance at the passenger manifest by Deccan Herald Correspondent at the Nellore railway station revealed that most of the 72 passengers booked in that coach had availed the ‘Tatkal’ facility.

While passengers who had alighted in stations before Vijayawada had the ‘grace of fate’ to survive, several others who got into the train there towards Chennai on its last lap became the victims.

Significantly, quite a few of them were software professionals coming back to duty on Monday after a weekend holiday.

Two of the survivors- Harish and Bharat- who managed to jump out of an open door because their tickets were yet to be confirmed, could not sadly locate their friend Gautam, apparently caught in the flames that engulfed the coach.

Both of them were stated to be working for the software company, TCS, in Chennai.
Friends of Shalini, a software professional and one of the victims of the fire mishap, were in deep shock at the platform of the Nellore station, where hundreds of people thronged to see the face of the dead.

Bodies draped in blue plastic sheets were in frighteningly rigid postures, freezing the victims' last emotions.

Political VIPs

The station was also bustling with activities as political VIPs’ led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy, Telugu Desam leader Chandrababu Naidu and actor-cum-Congress MP, Chiranjeevi had all come down to take a look at the charred compartment S-II parked at the railway station.

While authorities went about the task of identifying the bodies, a few passengers who escaped unhurt have their good fortune and presence of mind to thank.

One of them, Chitra, an employee at the Chennai Airport, walked over to the next compartment through the vestibule as she sensed chaos in S11 in which she was traveling.

“I don’t know what happened then; I just got down and someone was kind enough to drop me in a two-wheeler at the Nellore station,” Chitra told Deccan Herald.

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