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Ran for life: Survivors recount ordeal

Railway employees arrived there 15-20 minutes later, and all efforts to put out the flames were taken

Ran for life: Survivors recount ordeal

Remains of the train’s coach that caught fire at the Madurai railway station on Saturday

MADURAI: Uttar Pradesh resident Alka Prajapati was sleeping in the ill-fated private party train coach when screams of “fire, fire” erupted in the coach.

While she instinctively scurried towards safety, she found the train door locked. Thankfully, someone broke open the lock to let the panic-stricken passengers out, possibly averting a bigger tragedy.

Also Read: Rescue difficult as deceased were elderly: Local on Madurai train fire accident

“We were sleeping when we heard the cries and tried to escape. The door was locked so we could not escape immediately. Someone broke the lock and we came out. There was thick smoke and I couldn’t breathe properly and just took God’s name,” she said at the hospital where she was receiving medical attention.

Railway employees arrived there 15-20 minutes later, and all efforts to put out the flames were taken. “But it (the coach) was blazing,” she said, still recovering from the shock.

Vinod Kumar, another passenger, said sudden screams woke him up from sleep and “we ran for our life.”

A local eyewitness, auto-driver Mannan Prakash, said the people in the vicinity rushed to the accident spot soon after hearing a “sound”, but could not get near due to the fire. “Some got stuck inside. They could not get down (quickly) since it was a sleeper coach,” he said. The fire broke out at 5.15 am on Saturday and Fire service personnel who arrived at the spot half an hour later put down the blaze by 7.15 am.

“This is a private party coach that was attached at Nagercoil Junction yesterday (Aug 25) by train no. 16730 (Punalur-Madurai Exp). Party coach was detached and kept at Madurai Stabling line. The passengers in the private party coach have....smuggled gas cylinder and this has caused the fire,” Southern Railway said. The party coach had started the journey from Lucknow on August 17, scheduled to return to Chennai on Sunday and proceed to the UP capital from there on, the statement added.

“Most of the passengers could get out of the coach on noticing fire. Some passengers had already got down at platform also before detachment of coach,” it added. Among the items found at the spot was an LPG cylinder, bag of potatoes, damaged utensils and wooden logs, giving ample indications of attempts to cook food. At least nine pilgrims bound for Rameswaram lost their lives in the incident on Saturday.

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