Nine people were killed due to asphyxiation and 15 were severely injured as three coaches of the Mumbai-Dehradun Express caught fire in the wee hours of Wednesday.
The train caught fire soon after leaving Bandra terminus.
The train caught fire near Dahanu in Thane district, Maharashtra. Accident relief trains and top railway officials have reached the spot.
The fire which broke at around 3 am caught the passengers unguarded in the 3 bogies of coach 19019 down past 1.5 km of Gholwad railway station.
The fire affected coaches S2, S3 and S4, with S3 being the most affected.
Western Railway PRO Sharat Chandra said that a level crossing gate man spotted the fire and immediately alerted the guard inside the train.
The guard subsequently informed the motorman following which the train was stopped.
"Due to alertness of the gate man, a major disaster was averted," Chandra said.
The train was halted at Gholvad railway station near Dahanu road where the fire was brought under control.
Sources in the rescue team said that due to remote location, the rescue operation was hampered and the number of casualties may increase due to severe burns.
"We sent the the railway rescue van alongwith the fire brigade from Dahanu to douse the fire and controlled it as soon as the team reached the spot," said a senior GRP official.
Helpline numbers for Dehradun Express fire are 022-23011853 and 022-23007386.
Other helpline numbers
BCT- Auto-45551, 45552
P/T- 23011853, 23007388
BDTS- Auto- 47594, p/t- 26435756
BVi--auto- 34120, p/t- 28053001
DRD- auto- 49632
BL- auto- 49200, p/t- 241903
ST- auto- 41199, p/t- 02612423992
The other helpline Nos were 241903- Valsad; 022 67649632 – Dahanu Road; 022 26435756- Bandra Terminus; 0261 2423992- Surat; 011 23342954 & 1072 – New Delhiand 0135 2624002, 2624003 – Dehradun.
The train left for Dehradun after the four affected coaches were removed. The train has currently crossed Valsad.
Meanwhile, Railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge has ordered an inquiry into the blaze and announced a compensation of Rs5 lakh for victims families.
Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge today expressed grief over the death of passengers in the fire mishap on board the Mumbai-Dehradun Express and announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each to the next of kin of those killed.
"The Railway Minister has expressed deep grief over the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh for those who died in this unfortunate incident and Rs one lakh to those seriously injured," Chairman, Railway Board, Arunendra Kumar said.
A sum of Rs 50,000 will be given to those who received minor injuries.
The commissioner of Railway Safety will conduct an inquiry into the fire incident, he said.
While five bodies have been sent for post mortem, the other four would possibly require DNA tests to ascertain their identity as they are charred beyond recognition.
Officials said, prima facie it looked like an electrical malfunction in one of the coaches. It might have started from the toilet of one of the coaches. However, senior officials refused to confirm it.
According to the official statement issued by the Western Railway, the railways have offered free accommodation in the train to the relatives of the deceased up to Dahanu Road.
About 500 food packets along with tea & drinking water were arranged for the passengers of the train at Valsad where five more coaches were added to the train before dispatching it for its onward journey.
Five of the deceased have been identified as Ms Deepika Shah (65), Dev Shankar Upadhyay (48), Surendra Shah (68), Nasirkhan Ahmedkhan Pathan, (50) and Feroz Khan (38).