India: 9 pilgrims dead, over 50 injured after massive fire engulfs train; 'illegally smuggled gas cylinder' found on board

The passengers were trying to make coffee but when they lit the gas stove, the cylinder exploded


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Published: Sat 26 Aug 2023, 8:49 AM

Nine passengers were killed and over 50 people were injured after a fire broke out inside a stationary train compartment near India's Madurai Railway Station in the early hours of Saturday, officials said.

An ex-gratia of Rs1 million has been announced for the kin of the deceased, Southern Railway announced today.

A “private party coach” was attached at Nagercoil Junction on August 25 by Train number 16730, the Punalur-Madurai Express, which began its journey from Lucknow on August 17 and arrived at Madurai at 3.47am today. The “party coach” was detached and kept at the Madurai Stabling line where the fire broke out at 5.15am, according to a statement by Southern Railway.

The fire was triggered by an “illegally smuggled gas cylinder", according to the railway authorities.

"(The passengers) were pilgrims and were travelling from Uttar Pradesh,” said MS Sangeetha, Madurai district collector.

“This morning when they tried to make coffee and tried to light the gas stove, there was a cylinder blast. A total of 55 people have been rescued and as of now, we have retrieved nine bodies...Rescue operation is under way," he added.

There was no damage to any other coaches.

According to the release from the railways, “the passengers in the private party coach have illegally smuggled gas cylinder and this caused the fire. Many passengers got out of the coach on noticing fire."

The “party coach” was scheduled to return to Chennai tomorrow by Train Number 16824, the Kollam-Chennai Egmore Ananthapuri Express, and then return to Lucknow from there.

According to the railways, any individual can book a party coach using the IRCTC portal. They are not allowed to carry any inflammable material like gas cylinder. The coach is to be used only for transportation purposes.


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