At least 35 passengers were killed and 25 injured when a coach of the Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express caught fire near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh early today, officials said.
The death toll may go up as a total of 72 passengers were travelling in the second class reserved compartment.
Fire broke out around 5.30 am in the S11 compartment minutes after the Chennai-bound train left Nellore railway station in south coastal Andhra Pradesh, about 450 km from here.
A senior Southern Railway official said, "A train carrying the relatives of those travelling in the S-11 coach of the Tamil Nadu Express will leave Chennai Central at 9.30 am. The train will bring back the affected passengers from Nellore."
While 15 passengers are believed to have jumped down from the burning compartment, there was no official word about others.
A witness told reporters that many were trapped inside when the flames engulfed the compartment. "I was lucky to come out but many passengers could not escape as two doors were jammed and the smoke spread fast," said Sudhir.
Fire fighting personnel extinguished the fire and rescue workers were using gas cutters and other equipment to retrieve the bodies.
Ambulances were pressed into service to shift the injured to hospital.
Top officials including district collector and superintendent of police rushed to the scene and supervised rescue and relief work.
The district collector said burning bogie was detached to prevent the fire from spreading to other compartments.
He quoted some witnesses as saying that the fire was caused by short circuit near the toilet.
As the train was not moving at full speed, some passengers either entered the adjoining compartment or jumped down. However, those sleeping on the upper berths could not escape as the smoke spread fast and even the doors were not opening.
The railways put out a list of the injured passengers.
Jai Bharat Hospital: S.Prakash Singh, Shoba Singh, Uday Bhaskar, G Ramachandra Srinivas, Kumud Kumar Bansal, Prasanna Bansal, Sujanmal Sharada Parakah and Sujanmal.
Bollineni Hospital: S.Madan Lal, Uttam Kumar, Anusha, Tirupattiamma, Sampath Kumar.
Government Hospital: KK Sunil Kumar, Amarpreet Singh, Venkata Koteswara Rao, Raghavan, Sandeep Agnihotri, S.S. Verma, Veena and one-year-old baby Arshita (from New Delhi to Chennai), Hussain, Rekha, Sukhdeep Singh, Sambasiva Rao.
People's Polyclinic: Krushi and CV ijayakumar.
Chennai Central Station - 044-25357398, 044-25330821
Nellore - 0861-2345863, 864, 865, 866 and 0866-2576924
Secunderabad - 040–27786723, 27700868, 27786539
Warangal - 0870-2426232, 09701371063
Delhi - 011-23342954, 23341072, 23341074, 24359748