The police have recovered the bodies of three passengers, including a child, from the railway track near Elathur where an unidentified man on Sunday night set on fire couch number D1 of the Alappuzha-Kannur Express after pouring some inflammable liquid. The passengers hailing from Mattannur were those who reportedly jumped off from the moving train to escape from the fire.
Soon after the train was stopped near the Korappuzha bridge, some of the passengers had revealed to the police that a few had attempted to jump off from the train in fear. The incident was confirmed nearly three hours after inspecting the railway track.
Police sources said there were strong reasons to suspect the attack as a premeditated one by the arsonist. The man who set fire to the compartment on Sunday at 9.30 p.m., following a heated exchange of words with the co-passengers, escaped from the spot with the help of another stranger.
Closed circuit television cameras from a nearby location caught him fleeing from the spot on a two-wheeler allegedly arranged by the stranger. Senior police officers declined to confirm reports that the suspected man was taken into custody a few hours after the incident.
Meanwhile, the Railway authorities made it clear that the man made his entry to the coach without a reserved ticket. The police could not confirm whether he targeted any particular individual or a group of passengers. At the same time, RPF sources said there were witnesses who expressed doubts over his plan to target a woman passenger in the group.
According to some of the eyewitnesses in the compartment, he was pouring an inflammable type of liquid on the floor and setting it on fire. They said it was a close shave for nine passengers who sustained burn injuries and were admitted to various hospitals in Kozhikode city and Koyilandy.
A major accident was averted as some of the passengers managed to douse the flames on time and help others move quickly to the next compartments.
The police and Railway Protection Force recorded the statements of the majority of passengers to support the intensified probe. They also recovered a bag reportedly used by the arsonist to carry the inflammable liquid. There were two bottles of combustible liquid, reportedly petrol, to unleash the attack, the police said.