The SP said Vijaya Ramamurthy's desperate act shows that the coach would have caught fire well before the train entered the tunnel.
Vijaya Ramamurthy, a passenger travelling in the ill-fated coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express, is learnt to have jumped from the train much earlier than the place the train eventually stopped at, giving rise to questions as to when the coach caught fire and when was it noticed.
Speaking to The Hindu, Railway Superintendent of Police Janaradhan said that Ms. Ramamurthy, who is currently being treated at the railway hospital in Bangalore, had actually jumped out of the train and had fallen in a tunnel. She was later picked up by a few railway policemen and 108 ambulance staff.
The SP said her desperate act shows that the coach would have caught fire well before the train entered the tunnel. The tunnel is between Prasanthi Nilayam railway station and the purported site of accident where the train came to a halt. The distance between the station and the tunnel is 1.5 km and the train stopped about 2.5 km after the tunnel.
As per rough calculation, a train travelling at a speed of around 80 km per hour would take less than a minute to cross the tunnel and another minute-and-a-half to the spot where the train halted completely. In all, the train would have taken only around two to two-and-a-half minutes to cross the tunnel, given that the train had not stopped at Prasanthi Nilayam, said Station Manager A. Anil Kumar. His staff did not notice any fire nor did they observe sudden braking which means the chain could have been pulled after the station.
However, since the TTE is said to have pulled the chain, given the fact that a train takes no less than over a minute to stop from a cruising speed, it remains a mystery as to when or where the chain was actually pulled and when Ms. Ramamurthy noticed fire.
Meanwhile, Dr. Siva Sankar Naik, who attended to Ms. Ramamurthy when she was admitted to the government general hospital at Anantapur, said she did not suffer any burn injuries but only a laceration in scalp and some bruises on hands and back. This also hints at the fact that she might have jumped off the train much before the fire engulfed the coach.
Staff Reporter adds:
Speaking over phone from the Railway Hospital in Mysore, sixty-three-year-old Ms. Ramamurthy, who was sleeping on seat number 44, said that as soon as she noticed smoke, she rushed to the door. “But after that, I have no memory of whether I jumped out of the train myself or if I was pushed,” she said.
Ms. Ramamurthy was travelling to Mantralaya with five of her family members - including her husband, two sons, daughter-in-law, grandson - all of who were lucky enough to survive the tragedy. Her husband Ramamurthy, who is a retired railway official said: “Amidst the chaos and confusion, all of us jumped out of the train, but we could not spot my wife. We thought that she was probably burnt in the train. Only after three hours, the 108 ambulance staff called on my son’s phone to say that my wife was found in a tunnel with injuries.”
He said that she was rushed to a Dharmavaram hospital for first aid and later shifted to Anantapur General Hospital for treatment before being brought to Railway Hospital in Mysore.