Australian, 2 children among victims aboard Doon Express
Seven people, including two children and an Australian woman, were burnt to death and over 50 injured when the Howrah-Dehra Dun Doon Express caught fire as the train was running through Jharkhand's Giridih district in the early hours of Tuesday.
Two AC coaches B1, B2, caught fire due to short circuiting, railway officials said. The fire was noticed at 2.30 a.m when the train was running between Nimiyaghat and Parasnath. It was extinguished by a rescue team which reached the spot at 4 a.m., said Anil Saxena, chief PRO, Railways, Jharkhand. Four bodies have been identified so far.
Asked about a possibility of more casualties, P.K. Srivastav, Railway Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad, said: “We are still searching for more bodies and cannot confirm anything now. In B1, there were 72 passengers and all the seven bodies were recovered only from that coach.”
Passengers in B2 escaped, moving to other coaches. There were also some other Australian nationals travelling in the train, said Mr. Srivastav.
The victims identified so far are Australian Amil Rose (23), Archita Thakur, (4), Tubi Ali Akhtar( 8) and Anumita Singh(25).
“Someone switched off the air-conditioner and this caused suffocation in coach B1. We asked the ward boy to switch it on but it didn't happen, as short circuiting occurred. We tried to save people's lives but we couldn't enter the coaches which were engulfed in smoke. Somebody pulled the chain and that saved our lives,” said a passenger from B1, who escaped by leaving the coach.
Both B1 and B2, badly burnt, were detached from the train and hauled to the Gomah station.
The Railway Minister has announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh for the family of each of the deceased and Rs. 25,000 for the injured.
The running of some local trains has been affected following the incident. Helplines have been set up (Dhanbad 0326-2220518 and Hajipur 06224-273293).