Another train fire, nine killed

Another train fire, nine killed

Nine people were asphyxiated in their sleep when a major blaze seared through three coaches of the Bandra-Dehradun Express in Dahanu, barely a few kilometres from the Gujarat border, in the early hours of Wednesday.

Even as the news of the train catching fire was beginning to sink in, speculation of smoke billowing out of the wheels of the Delhi-Lucknow Shatabdi Express triggered panic among passengers at Ghaziabad station. The fear subsided after it was found that it was smog that had puffed out due to a brake jam.

A Western Railway spokesperson said five of the nine bodies with severe burns had been identified and around 10 injured were administered first aid at the nearest railway station at Gholvad village.

A high-level of inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire, which is believed to have sparked off around 2:35 am in the vestibule between the S-2 and S-3 coaches. The adjoining S-4 coach also went up in flames due to the high speed of the train and the wind.

“The train left five minutes past midnight and we were all sleeping when we found we couldn't breathe and everybody was coughing as smoke was fast enveloping the compartments. We panicked and pulled the chain,” passengers said.

The spokesperson said gateman Jawahar Singh, who was on duty on the Mumbai-Surat section, near Gholvad, spotted the smoke and flames.  He informed the Gholvad station master, who alerted the loco pilot, bringing the train to a halt.

“The alertness of the gateman saved several lives and averted a major tragedy as there were 64 passengers in the affected coaches. The pilot and the guard rushed to the compartments, helped the people to escape and uncoupled the three coaches. The coaches were fortunately at the rear end of the train,” the spokesperson said.

Fire tenders from Gholvad were rushed to the spot. The firemen later retrieved nine bodies. The train, with six intact coaches, left for Gholvad station.  Five of the deceased have been identified as Deepika Shah, 65, Dev Shankar Upadhyay, 48, Surendra Shah, 68, Nasirkhan Ahmed Khan Pathan, 50 and Feroz Khan, 38.

Meanwhile, Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge expressed anguish over the tragedy and announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased.

Smoke on Chalukya Express

Passengers of the Yeshwantpur-Dadar Chalukya Express endured some anxious moments after noticing smoke in the second coach when the train was passing between Chinchali and Kuduchi railway stations on Wednesday evening, reports DHNS from Raibaug, Belgaum district.

The train was halted at Kuduchi station and the bogey was inspected when it was found that smoke was coming from the brake liners. The brake liners were doused with water to stop the smoke. The train left towards Miraj around 8:30 pm. The cause for the smoke coming from the brake liners wasn’t known.

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