Two persons were killed and at least six were injured when two bogies of the Falaknuma Passenger mysteriously caught fire within minutes of arrival at the Gulbarga station on Tuesday afternoon.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire first noticed in one bogie after a loud thud, spread immediately to the other, reducing both compartments to a mangled mass of steel within minutes.
The Railway and civil police joined hands with fire personnel and the fire was put out after a relentless fight for more than 45 minutes. Limiting the damage, the railway personnel disconnected the affected bogies from the train. They recovered two charred bodies, which the police said appeared to be that of a woman and a child.
Not many passengers
According to the eyewitnesses, there were just 10-12 passengers in the affected compartments of the train, which had arrived from Hyderabad on platform 3 at 1.45 p.m. The fire was noticed a few minutes later. Luckily, all bogies were near-empty as the blaze engulfed the two compartments. The train was scheduled to leave at 4.45 p.m. for Solapur in Maharashtra.
For patients, devotees
The train is mainly used by patients and their relatives visiting Solapur for treatment as well as pilgrims who go to Tuljapur, about 40 km away from Solapur, to worship goddess Tuljabhavani.
Gopal Hanumanth Guttedar, a fish merchant from Badola in Solapur district, who sustained burns in the hands and legs, said he was eating lunch along with his wife Chennamma and grandson Santosh in one of the two bogies, when he noticed the fire.
“As we were sitting near the exit, I jumped out first and later rescued my grandson and wife from the burning train…,” he said, speaking to The Hindu from his hospital ward.
“Before the fire engulfed the compartment, I heard a loud thud. Soon it was fire everywhere and it was spreading fast… the entire bogey was surrounded with thick smoke,” he said.
Protest against nuisance
“Prior to the fire outbreak, we noticed six youngsters who along with a girl got into the train at the Gulbarga station. I pulled them up for creating nuisance and disturbing other people. I do not know whether they were carrying liquor bottles or any other substance. All I heard was a thud before the fire was noticed,” he said.
“We did not see any of them after we got off the train,” said Guttedar and his wife.
Chennamma and Santosh sustained minor injuries.
The family was returning from a pilgrimage to Moula Peer Darga at Rajoli village near Ladlapur in Chitapur taluk of the district.
Naseem (40), hailing from Yadgir, who was going to Solapur for treatment of a hip fracture, also said she heard a thud before the fire spread. Her children Ronesh and Ghouse sustained burns.