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India: 47 dead after fire on train bound for Chennai

The train caught fire near the town of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh earlier this morning.

Andhra Pradesh province in India
Andhra Pradesh province in India
Image: Wikimedia Commons via Wikipedia

AN OFFICIAL IN India has said that the death toll from a train fire in the south of the country has risen to 47 people.

Associated Press reports the revised death toll after other agencies reported that at least 32 people were killed earlier today when a fire ripped through a coach on a speeding express train as it carried sleeping passengers to the southern Indian city of Chennai.

The accident, on a long-distance service from New Delhi, occurred in the early hours of the morning near the town of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh state.

“Thirty-two (bodies) have been pulled out from the coach,” Madhusudan Sarma, a senior administrative officer in Nellore district, told AFP, adding that there were still more corpses inside.

Another 26 people have been admitted to hospital, he added.

BBC News reports that while the cause of the blaze is still unclear authorities suspect that it is an electrical short circuit.

One coach was completely gutted and rescuers were struggling with the fierce temperatures inside the mostly metal carriage. Gas cutters were being used to cut open wider access for the emergency services.

Images of the crash showed thick black smoke still pouring out of the charred carriage as dawn broke over the accident scene.

Dozens of rescuers, survivors and crowds of onlookers milled around as the blackened and twisted bodies of victims were lifted out of the wrecked carriage and laid in rows alongside the railway line.

Accidents are common on India’s state-owned railway network with over 25,000 people dying on the railways in 2009, including pedestrians hit by trains and others who were killed on unprotected crossings, according to estimates.

India’s worst rail accident was in 1981 when a train plunged into a river in the eastern state of Bihar, killing an estimated 800 people.

- with reporting from Associated Press and AFP

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Hugh O'Connell

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