Thane (Maharashtra), Jan 8 (IANS) At least nine passengers were killed when a fire engulfed three sleeper coaches of the speeding Mumbai-Dehradun Express near Dahanu, close to the Maharashtra-Gujarat border, early Wednesday, officials said.
The fire is believed to have erupted in the vestibule between S-2 and S-3 coaches and quickly spread to the adjoining S-4 bogey, catching the sleeping passengers unawares, around 2.35 a.m. Wednesday, a Western Railway official spokesperson said.
Ten passengers injured due to the smoke and toxic fumes were administered first aid in the accident relief vans which were rushed from Mumbai and Gujarat. The injured were later shifted to hospitals in Dahanu and Gholwad, an official said.
Five of the nine passengers who died were identified as Deepika Shah (65), Dev Shankar Upadhyay (48), Surendra Shah (68), Nasir Khan Ahmed Khan Pathan (50), and Feroz Khan (38).
“The fire was noticed on the speeding train by a level-crossing gateman between Dahanu Road-Gholvad. He alerted the station master of Gholvad,” the spokesperson said.
“The station master informed the driver and the train was stopped. The gateman did a commendable job and averted a major disaster,” he added.
The fire was controlled shortly after the train was brought to a halt near Gholwad station, around 145 km north of Mumbai, on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.
Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has expressed anguish over the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs.500,000 to the families of those who perished in the blaze.
The Railway Board has ordered an inquiry into the incident and related aspects of the fire in the 19019 Bandra Terminus-Dehradun Express train.
Top Western Railway officials, including the Divisional Railway Manager, have rushed to the tragedy site and are supervising the relief operations.
Six coaches of the train were detached and five new coaches were added when it left the site on its onward journey to Dehradun at 5.30 a.m.
All other north-bound train services which were hit on the line were restored by 6.40 a.m., the official said.
The authorities made arrangements for free travel to Dahanu for the victims’ relatives, and 500 packets of food and beverages for the passengers on the train.
The railways have set up special helplines at various stations en-route and also at Dahanu Civil Hospital morgue where the bodies of the victims are kept.