Anthony Selvam from Muthamizh Nagar, Kodungaiyur arrived at Chennai Central Station around 7 a.m. on Monday, to receive his nieces, Jaycee and Rosie, whom he was meeting after four years. But all he got was a telephone call from the Railways around 8 a.m. stating that the train Tamil Nadu Express (12622) in which the family was travelling had caught fire.
“My brother Thavamani (25), sister Ponmani (29), her two young children and her mother-in-law Elizabeth (46) were on berths 53, 54 and 56 in the S11 coach. Their names are not in the list of injured at Central,” said Selvam who, like many others, boarded a rescue train that left from Chennai Central on Monday morning to Nellore, along with his brother Maria Selvam and friend Kannan, hoping to find his five family members alive.
The five had boarded the Tamil Nadu Express at Jhansi, after a 10-day holiday in Delhi with Ponmani’s husband David Raj, who is with the Army. “My sister and kids had planned to spend a day in my house before heading to their home in Tirunelveli by train,” added Selvam, who was in tears.
Railway authorities said many bodies have been charred beyond recognition. According to the reservation chart, the youngest member in the coach was Srijit (13) from Bhopal but Ponamani’s children, who were below ten years of age, didn’t need tickets to accompany their family.
Late on Monday evening, Selvam spoke to The Hindu over the phone from Nellore, and said that bodies of the children as well as the other members of his family had been identified in a Nellore hospital.