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32 die as TN Express...

Officials have retrieved 32 charred bodies from the S-11 coach of the Chennai-bound 12622 Tamil Nadu Express, which caught fire at 4.14 a.m., on Monday. The mishap occurred between Nellore and Vedayapalem railway stations on the Vijayawada-Gudur Section of Vijayawada Division. The train was just over a kilometre from the Nellore station when flames leaped out of the coach. A passenger pulled the chain and halted the train. There was no damage to the rest of the superfast train. Police arrived on the spot within a few minutes and started rescue operations. Fire tenders were pressed into service, but the coach was burnt within no time. The fire was put out by 5.20 a.m., an official release said. The bogie was isolated and taken to platform no. 3 at the Nellore railway station. Rescue personnel used oxy-acytelane cutters to clear the bogie The coach had 72 passengers in all. While 25 of them were rushed to the Nellore District Hospital, some of them were admitted to Bollineni Superspecialty hospital. A dozen or more passengers were said to have jumped out of the moving train even before it came to a stop. Witnesses speak The passengers in the ill-fated coach were largely from Jaipur, Chennai and Vijayawada. Many passengers had boarded the coach from Vijayawada station. Y. Sampath (25), a software engineer at Syntel had boarded the train with his sister. "I woke up after hearing loud screams. All I could see was black smoke," he said while explaining the scene inside the coach. He managed to escape through one of the doors that was not locked. However, Sampath's sister, Y. Ashwini (23), is missing. She is also a software professional, who is working in TCS. Sambasiva Rao, a businessman, has been admitted to Nellore District Hospital with 80 per cent burns. His wife Jhansi Rao has reached Nellore learning about the accident. Ms Jhansi said, "My husband called me saying the bogie is burning. I rushed here immediately." Hailing from Gudiwada, Krishna District, the couple reside in Chennai. Another passenger Sukhadev Singh is also being treated for 80 per cent burns in the same hospital. Railways and police are in the process of identifying the victims. Some of the passengers who are undergoing treatment at the District Hospital are: Verma (Raghav Nagar); Venkata Koteshwara Rao, (Vijayawada) Hussain (Tirunelveli), Raghavan (Chennai), K.K. Sunil Kumar (Delhi), Harsha (Chennai) and Sandeep Agnihotri (Jaipur). District Collector B. Sridhar, Superintendent of Police B.V. Ramana Kumar and railway officials were at the spot, monitoring the operations. Though the reason for the fire has not been officially confirmed, sources blamed a short circuit inside the coach. Railways has set up the following helpline numbers. Secunderabad 040-27786723/27700868/27786539, Nellore 0861-2345863/2345864/2345866. Vijayawada 0866-2576924/2575038/2576796/25761072 and Warangal 0870-2426232/097013-37106. The railways has announced an enhanced ex-gratia of Rs. 5 lakh to the kin of each passenger who died in the mishap. Normal train traffic on the Nellore-Gudur section was restored by 8.30 a.m. and all trains on the section were said to be running on schedule.

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