Railway officials claim to have found traces of kerosene but fire department refuses to acknowledge it

Officials from the Fire Department and Railways were clearly heading for a showdown over the reasons behind the mysterious fire that broke out in the S11 coach of Tamil Nadu Express on Monday. While the Fire Department officials, who were the first to reach the spot, maintained that they did not find a trace of kerosene, the railway authorities on the other hand claimed that they found traces of kerosene indicating links to sabotage.

“Neither did we find traces of kerosene nor smell it soon after our fire-fighters entered the compartment. Our personnel entered the compartment moments after the fire-fighting operation concluded around 5.30 a.m.,” said Nellore District Fire Officer G. Srinivasulu.

Investigation

He asserted that the railway officials came to the accident site only after fire-fighters reached the spot. However, senior fire officials said a comprehensive investigation should be taken up to unravel the reasons behind the mishap. They said that two out of four doors in the compartment were closed and flames did not spread to other coaches even though the train was travelling at a speed of over 110 km per hour while passing through the Nellore station.

Officials argued that fire could have originated between seat numbers 50 and 60 because of the extensive damage of these seats. The intensity of the damage is more between these seats when compared to other areas in the compartment.

“Charred and twisted bodies were lying around these seats. This clearly indicates that fire might have emanated from seat numbers 50 to 60, they said.

It was a railway employee, Krishnamurthy, who was the first to alert the fire control room at around 4.30 a.m. on Monday about the flames that engulfed the train minutes after it crossed the Nellore railway station.

As the fire station is just 1.5 km from the spot, two fire tenders were the first to reach the spot within five minutes. The fire tenders immediately carried out fire-fighting operation.

“We battled for an hour to douse the flames. We succeeded in rescuing two persons from the coach. The injured were shifted to the hospital in 108 ambulances,” Mr. Srinivasulu explained.

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