Madurai: Ten pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh were killed and 20 others injured when a private train coach caught fire about 1km from Madurai junction in Tamil Nadu last week. Railway authorities said the fire is suspected to have originated from a gas cylinder, smuggled into the coach for cooking meals.
Railway officials said Bhasin Travels, a travel agency in UP’s Sitapur, had booked the coach. Commencing their journey on August 17 from Lucknow, a group of 64 passengers, along with attendants from the travel agency, embarked on a tour that included destinations such as Vijayawada, Renigunta, Mysore, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram, primarily focusing on temples.
The coach was attached to Train No 16730 Punalur–Madurai Express, arriving in Madurai at 3.17am after departing from Nagercoil the previous night. The fire started after the coach was parked in the yard near the Bodi Line area around 5.15 am and rapidly engulfed the entire coach. Reports suggest that some passengers, possibly attendants assigned by the travel agency, were making tea.
Most occupants managed to escape, but those who were asleep when the fire broke out were caught in the blaze. Some of the attendants fled the scene. Due to the difficult road accessibility of the track where the coach was parked, fire and rescue teams reached the scene around 5.45 am. Nearby railway coaches were cleared to facilitate firefighting efforts. The deceased were transported to Government Rajaji Hospital for autopsies, while the injured were transferred to medical facilities.