M A I N   N E W S

Four Rajdhani coaches catch fire, none hurt

Ratlam (MP), April 18
Hundreds of passengers on board Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express had a miraculous escape when fire broke out in three coaches and the pantry car in the wee hours of today while the speeding train was passing through Rajasthan. No one was injured and all the 1,100-odd passengers travelling in the prestigious train were safe, officials said. Two passenger coaches were fully gutted.

Passengers in the three affected coaches were jolted out of their sleep after dense smoke entered the compartments. The fire broke out at around 2.20 am when the train was between Alot and Thuriya stations, about 75 km from here, in Kota division of West Central Railways, Ratlam Divisional Commercial Manager Ravi Mohan Sharma said.

Preliminary investigation suggested that the fire started in the pantry car due to a short-circuit and soon spread to the adjacent B-6 and B-7 coaches on one side and the B-5 coach on the other side. Sharma said B-6 and B-7 bogies were fully damaged, while B-5 and the pantry car suffered a little damage. Railway authorities have announced ex-gratia of Rs 5,000 each for the 144 passengers in B-6 and B-7 coaches.

The couplings of the four affected coaches were detached immediately by the railway staff at Thuriya to stop the spread of fire, Railways spokesperson Anil Saxena said in New Delhi. Fire tenders were rushed to the spot from Ujjain and Ratlam, he said. Sharma said that Commissioner, Railway Safety (Central Circle) had started a probe and report would be submitted to the Railway Board in seven days.

WCR Chief Public Relations Officer Piyush Mathur said after the affected coaches were detached, the train left for Delhi at around 8.20 this morning. The passengers reached New Delhi this evening relieved that they survived the fire. Several of them reported that they had lost their belongings.

Rail traffic was disrupted in the Nagda-Kota line for some time due to the incident, he said. Helplines have been set up at Kota, Ratlam and Mumbai to give information about the incident.

Madhav, one of the passengers who reached Delhi, said everyone thought there was just a “small malfunction” on seeing the smoke until a staff worker shouted asking the occupants to get out after the train came to a halt. “The passengers’ reaction was amazing. You had old people and children. The train was filled with kids. People came together, stuck together,” he said, adding “the way people made way to help each other was amazing.” Madhav said the passengers walked to a nearby harvested wheat field and sat there till the fire was brought under control.

“We couldn’t handle the fire ourselves. it was too big for us to handle. So we could only wait for the fire brigade to come. It took about 2 to 3 hours for the fire brigade to arrive,” he said.



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