NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A Chennai-bound express train caught fire on Monday in a pre-dawn accident in Andhra Pradesh, killing at least 30 passengers.
The fire broke out in a coach of the Tamil Nadu Express near Nellore, around 500 kilometers from Hyderabad, when most of the passengers were asleep.
The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained. However, according to local media reports, the fire was caused due to an electrical short circuit.
The affected coach was completely charred and the rescue workers used gas cutters for breaking the windowpanes to pull out the bodies.
“As per reports, 30 people have died in the accident and 20 have been injured,” Railway Minister Mukul Roy said at a press conference in Kolkata.
“We still do not know the cause, we do not know how the train caught fire.”
The Indian Railways is a vital national transportation grid for the country’s 1.2 billion people, cramming 18 million people a day on to ageing trains.
But decades of low investment, a patchy safety record and frequent delays mean India has fallen far behind China in building a network fit for Asia’s third-largest economy.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday demanded Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh “answer” the nation over the frequent train mishaps in the country.
Addressing a news conference here, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was need for Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to answer to the nation the cause of frequent train accidents.
“We express our condolences to the unfortunate victims of the Tamil Nadu Express. The kind of situation that is coming forward regarding the accident, we feel that the Prime Minister should give some answer regarding this. Whether the safety aspect is being compromised or funds are not coming in properly, the nation would want an answer from the Prime Minister,” he said.