New Delhi, Apr 18: “It was a horror I would never forget. I and my family jumped out of the burning train amid leaping flames and thickening smoke,” said Satya Vir Singh, a passenger of Delh-bound Rajdhani Express train whose four coaches caught fire today.
Singh, along with his wife and two children were in B-7 coach, one of the coaches of the Mumbai-Delhi train which were gutted between Alot and Thuriya stations in Ratlam district, scampered out of the burning bogey in the dead of the night.
Singh, whose four luggages were burnt, said “collecting luggages was not our priority that time. I alerted my wife and children who were sleeping and asked them to come out of the coach immediately.”
Bahadur Mistry and his 34 friends, a tourist group who were going for an adventure tour of Shimla, Chandigarh and Manali, said “we all jumped out hurriedly one after another from the train. There was smoke everywhere. So, we did not lose time to come out in the open,” said Mistry.
Mrs Shroff, another member of the tourist group, said the incident, however, has not deterred them from going ahead with the journey. “Though we have lost many of our luggages in the fire, we are not cancelling our onward journey. Our tour programme has already been chalked out in advance”.
Like Shroff and Singh, many other passengers recounted their traumatic experiences to reporters at New Delhi station after the Rajdhani Express reached the national capital at 3.25 pm, suffering more than seven hours' delay.
Three coaches - B-5, B-6, B-7 - and the pantry car were gutted in the fire that started from the pantry car at 2.20 am in the train.
“I was woken up by the commotion. Without wasting time, I came out of the coach. The place where we had to disembark was a deserted place,” said Astha, a passenger in B-9 coach.
“Though there was no fire in my coach, I could see the burning coaches in front of me and it was a fearful sight,” she said.
Praveen Khurana, a resident of Subhash Nagar here, was fast asleep in B-6 coach when the fire broke out at the wee hours.
“Railway staff knocked at our coach from the outside and asked us to come out. Fire brigades came after one hour.”
However, Khurana said “villagers were very helpful as they provided water to douse the fire.”
Luggages of Heema Talati, who was in the coach near the pantry car with her two children, were also completely burnt.
“There was no time to collect luggages. We had received Rs 15,000 from railways as compensation but my loss was about Rs 80,000,” said Heema adding “I am happy that we jumped out of the coach in time.”
Railways have given Rs 5000 to each passenger at the affected coaches of B-5, B-6 and B-7 as ex-gratia.
“Only those luggages which are booked, can be considered for insurance claims, if lost,” said a senior Railway Ministry official. PTI