Bodies of train fire victims yet to be identified

August 2nd, 2008 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Aug 2 (IANS) A day after the fire on a train in Andhra Pradesh’s Warangal district killed at least 31 passengers, the authorities are facing a tough task in identifying the bodies charred beyond recognition. Even 36 hours after Gautami Express caught fire near K-Samudram railway station in Warangal district, only two of 31 bodies were identified. The forensic experts were Saturday sifting through the charred remains looking for some clues to identify the dead.

The passenger train, which was going from Secunderabad to Kakinada in coastal Andhra, caught fire early Friday morning, apparently due to short circuit, when it had crossed K-Samudram railway station, about 250 km from here.

It was agony for the relatives of the missing passengers, who were feared killed. Forensic experts hope to identify some bodies with the jewellery or any other metal item worn by the victims. They said the remaining bodies could be identified with the help of DNA test.

V.C. Sajannar, Warangal district superintendent of police, Saturday said the death toll stands at 31. Earlier, confusion over the death toll continued till late Friday night with the local authorities confirming 20 deaths while a statement issued by railway ministry in Delhi put the toll at 32.

Minister of State for Railways Narainbhai Rathwa, who visited the accident site late Friday evening, told reporters that 20 people were killed. However, after his departure the forensic experts found more skulls and bones from the gutted compartments.

The piles of skulls and bones in packets were shifted to MGM Hospital at Warangal town by the forensic experts, who continued to sift through the wreckage till late Friday night to collect human remains.

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed as relatives of the missing passengers were crying inconsolably on seeing the charred remains.

K. Durga Reddy, who escaped the fire, was frantically looking for his wife and son. Sridevi (23) and Adityavardhan (9) were both feared dead.

The family had boarded S-10 compartment at Warangal railway station and a few minutes later the flames engulfed the train. While Durga Reddy managed to escape, his wife and son were caught in the flames.

The majority of the bodies were found in this compartment, where the fire first broke out and spread to four other coaches. Survivors said since the doors of S-10 were jammed, all the passengers ran towards adjacent coaches. Those who could not escape were engulfed by leaping flames. They included three physically challenged passengers, who were returning to Kakinada after a training programme here.

The bodies of two women, who died of suffocation, were found intact. They were identified as Sarita (25), a physician and Bhagyalakshmi (37).

Sarita, who was in advanced stage of pregnancy, was going to her parents’ house along with husband Ravi Kumar, also a physician. Kumar is missing and feared dead. Bhagyalakshmi was also returning home after attending a counselling session for her son’s admission at an engineering college here.

Meanwhile, the five gutted coaches were towed to Kazipet Saturday after V.K. Agarwal, chief commissioner of railway safety, held a preliminary inquiry. Railway officials said he would conduct a public inquiry at Warangal Aug 4-5.

Short circuit is believed to be the cause of the fire as authorities ruled out sabotage.

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