Bodies charred beyond recognition; survivors tell horror tales; coach becomes museum of nightmare

The tracks leading to the Nellore Railway Station have turned into a desolate museum of sorts, thronged by scores of visitors. The sight that greets people here are the gory remnants of a fire accident that claimed 32 lives and injured 27 in the early hours on Monday.

At 4.22 a.m., a fire broke out in the S11 coach of the Chennai-bound Tamil Nadu Express (12622), as the train, which began its journey in Delhi, was passing through Nellore.

A pair of white shoes lies abandoned on a section of the tracks. Near the shoes are a few blood-stained air pillows. Toothbrushes, shaving gear and packets of what used to be dinner, are some of the other items strewn on the tracks. At around 2.30 p.m., a group of locals huddle by the tracks in mournful silence, some scanning the debris carefully, others curious about the ash. About 100 metres away, a group of residents from Nellore Ramamurthy Nagar are taking shade beneath a tree. These residents saw the train compartment go up in flames. “It was around 4 a.m. I think, when I heard a commotion. When I stepped out, I was shocked to see a compartment on fire,” said Venkateswaralu, a resident. As he had undergone a throat operation he could not rush forward to save the passengers, but called the fire service, an ambulance and a few local politicians, he said.

“But there were other residents who rushed forward to give water to the thirsty passengers. Some were crying and some were trying to make calls to their loved ones. By 5 a.m., two fire-fighting vehicles arrived and were trying to douse the flames,” said Venkateswaralu.

For them language was not a barrier. “Some of them knew Telugu, but many did not. But we knew they needed help and we did what we could. This is the first time we are seeing such an accident on a track near our locality,” added Venkateswarlu.

K. Chandrasekhar, another resident says he was woken up by the barking of dogs. “It was unusual, so I came out and I saw was the compartment burning. By then the fire service had arrived. Ambulances were also present at the site of the accident,” he said.

“The railways hike fares frequently, but the facilities remain abysmal. Their negligence has cost so many lives,” says P. Abdul Thameem, another resident.

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