At least 10 persons were ”reported dead” in a fire that broke out inside a stationary train compartment in Madurai railway station in the wee hours of Saturday, the Southern Railway said, adding a ”gas cylinder” ”illegally’‘ taken in led to the blaze.
The ”private party coach” with 65 passengers had arrived from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. ”10 persons reported dead,” in the fire, a Southern Railway release said.
Police, fire and rescue services personnel besides railway staff, involved in dousing the fire, extricated the charred bodies from the compartment. The fire broke out at 5.15 am on Saturday and the Fire service personnel who arrived at the spot half an hour later put down the blaze by 7.15 am, a Southern Railway release said.
”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,” the release said.
The party coach had started the journey from Lucknow on August 17, scheduled to return to Chennai on Sunday and return to Lucknow from there, it added. ”While the coach was stabled/parked, some members of the party in the private party coach were using the illegally smuggled cooking gas cylinder unauthorisedly for preparing tea/snacks, which caused the fire in the stabled/parked coach. 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.
Ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh was being paid to each of the family of the deceased, it said.
Southern Railway also announced two help line numbers for information related to the fire incident and causalities– 9360552608, 8015681915.
Any individual can book party coach using IRCTC portal. They are not allowed to carry any inflammable material like gas cylinder. The coach is to used only for transportation purpose, the release said, adding senior officials were rushing to the spot.