Another train catches fire, kills 9

CoachesThe burnt coaches of Bandra-Dehradun Express parked at Dahanu Road station, in Thane district, on Wednesday. (Deepak Joshi)

Four persons were charred and five died due to suffocation after three sleeper coaches S2, S3 and S4 of the Bandra Dehradun Express were gutted in the early hours of Wednesday. The incident occurred between Dahanu Road and Gholvad station near Surat.

Eight passengers were reported missing, said Hemant Kumar, General Manager, Western Railway, adding that the four charred bodies could be of those missing. He said 82 listed passengers were travelling in the three ill-fated coaches.

While the cause of the fire was yet to ascertained, senior railway officers ruled out short circuit. "Given that there was no smoke reported till Dahanu Road and even until the train passed three level crossing gates, it appears that something highly combustible caused the fire that gutted the three coaches in no time," said a senior railway officer who did not want to be named.

Ghatkopar couple Dipika Shah (65) and Surendra Shah (68), Borivali resident Dev Shankar Upadhyay (48), Nasirkhan Ahmedkhan Pathan (50) and Feroz Khan (38) from Dhahod. who were travelling in S4 coach, died due to suffocation. Two charred bodies were retrieved from S4 and two from S2.

The bodies have been sent to Civil Hospital, Dahanu Road. The remains of the four charred passengers were sent for DNA test for identification to J J Hospital in Mumbai. A report is expected in a week.

An inquiry by Commissioner of Railway Safety has been ordered.

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased. Minister of State for Railway Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy and Railway Board officers visited the site in the evening.

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