Upadhay pulled the cord to activate the emergency brakes in the nick of time, bringing the train to a halt but died of suffocation

Some quick thinking on the part of Devendra Upadhay, 48, saved the lives of many other passengers as a fire broke out on the Bandra-Dehradun Express on Wednesday. But he himself did not survive the blaze.

As thick smoke engulfed him, Upadhay pulled the cord to activate the emergency brakes in the nick of time, bringing the train to a halt.

He died of suffocation, but helped others, like his friend Mehul Bhanushali survive.

“Around 2.30 a.m., we heard commotion. We saw women running from S3 towards our coach S4, screaming that there was a fire. My friend pulled the chain. We jumped out through the emergency exit, but Mr. Upadhyay couldn’t make it,” said an inconsolable Bhanushali.

Upadhyay was a trader in Mumbai. “Had there been automatic fire alarms in place, this tragedy could have been averted. The Railways do not care about passenger safety,” said his son Parth Upadhyay.

Two other passengers who died in the fire were also traders.

Firoz Pathan Khan, 48, and his nephew, Nazir Khane, 32, were returning to Gujarat after a day’s visit to Mumbai.

“We make frequent trips between Mumbai and Gujarat. We regularly travel by the Dehradun Express,” said their relative Wasim Sheikh, who came to collect their bodies at Cottage Hospital at Dahanu Road. “We managed to identify them from their wallets,” he said. Only five bodies have been identified. The rest were charred and sent to JJ Hospital for DNA profiling.

The fire was contained by the staff on the train since the hilly terrain delayed the arrival of the fire brigade.

It was the locals who helped to pull many passengers out of compartments. Among them was Ankur Kamble, a student. “My friend told us about the incident and we rushed to the spot. There was a lot of smoke emerging from the train. People were asking for help to jump out. We did what we could to help,” he said.

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