Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge has ordered a high-level inquiry into the ghastly fire accident on the Bangalore-Nanded Express in Anantapur district, which claimed 26 lives in the early hours of Saturday.

Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar and Member (Electricals) Khulbushan would head the inquiry team. He had directed them to rush to the spot, inspect the ill-fated coach and submit a report to him at the earliest.

Rs. 5 lakh compensation

Before boarding a specially requisitioned helicopter to visit the accident site on Saturday morning, Mr. Kharge announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the families of the dead. The railways would bear the cost of treatment of the injured.

Mr. Kharge said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called him to get details of the accident.

Expressing his deep shock, Mr. Kharge extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.

Though initial reports indicated that a short circuit could have set off the blaze, the railways were not ruling out other possibilities like explosives used in stone quarries aboard the train causing the fire.

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