Many passengers had gotten out of the coach on noticing the fire. Some passengers got down on the platform. Railway sources said fire service personnel were alerted immediately and they arrived at 5.45am. The fire was put out by 7.15am. No damage was reported to any other coach.
Tamil Nadu Train Fire: Nine people killed after train coach catches fire at Madurai railway station
The passengers arrived by train No 16730 (Punalur-Madurai Express) which reached Madurai at 3.47am. The private party coach was attached at Nagercoil Junction on Friday. The party coach was detached and kept at Madurai Stabling line.
Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin announced compensation of Rs 3 lakh to each bereaved family. In a statement, Stalin condoled the death of the nine passengers from UP.
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath also announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh. Whereas, Southern Railway announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the deceased.
Madurai collector M S Sangeetha and state minister for commercial taxes P Moorthy were directed to visit the accident site and take necessary measures.
The party coach had started their journey from Lucknow on August 17. They were scheduled to return to Chennai on Sunday by Train No 16824 Kollam-Chennai-Egmore-Ananthapuri Express and proceed to Lucknow.
Any individual can book party coaches using the IRCTC portal. They are not allowed to carry any inflammable material like a gas cylinder. The coach is to be used only for transportation purposes, said railway officials.
At 5:30 am, there was a fire accident in a coach which was halted at the Madurai railway station. They were pilgrims and were travelling from Uttar Pradesh. 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 underway.
MS Sangeetha, Madurai district collector
Some of the survivors TOI spoke to, said a group of 63 tourists from Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh arranged the tour through the IRCTC. They visited Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), Renigunta (Andhra Pradesh), Mysore (Karnataka) and Bengaluru and reached Madurai after visiting Nagercoil (Tamil Nadu). They were planning to visit the temple town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu after visiting Madurai on Saturday.
Shivaprathap Singh Chauhan, 65, is worried about his wife Mithresh Kumari. He is praying that she would be among the injured. Six people have suffered injuries and are being shifted from the Railway Hospital to the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai.
Chauhan said they were fast asleep when the fire spread. “I don’t know how the fire broke out. I managed to push four people away from the coach but fainted due to exhaustion. I am worried about my wife and others who traveled with us,” he said.
Photo: S Lenin
Meanwhile, the Madurai Railway Division shifted the survivors to a facility in the junction premises and arranged helpdesks. State commercial taxes minister, Madurai collector and corporation commissioner K J Praveen Kumar joined railway authorities to facilitate the rehabilitation.
The following two help line numbers are provided at the site to share the information related to the fire incident and casualties
– 9360552608 | 8015681915
Helpline numbers (Uttar Pradesh)
– 1070 | 9454441081 | 9454441075
Reacting to the incident, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said, “Another devastating incident in railways, this time at Madurai ( Tamil Nadu) today, involving a massive fire in a train, and leading to at least 9 shocking and tragic deaths and minimally 20 critical injury cases ! While I convey my condolences to the families of the deceased & pray for the injured, expect that inquiries would fix responsibilities soon. May I also urge the railway authorities to be more vigilant and less callous about safety and human lives?.”
Watch Madurai Train Fire:’Lucknow passengers lost their lives while cooking in a private IRCTC coach,’ say officials