Alive by God's grace, says train fire survivor
Chennai, July 30 (IANS) A shaken survivor of the fire in a sleeper coach of the New Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express Monday attributed his survival to the "grace of God".
"It was due to God's grace I am alive today," D. Ram Sudhakar, manager at United India Insurance Company's Vishakapatnam branch in Andhra Pradesh, told IANS.
"I boarded the train at Vijayawada at 1 a.m. Monday. Soon after I started sleeping in my berth number 7 in the S-11 coach. Around 4.10 a.m, I heard people shouting and got up with a start. I saw blazing fire at the other end of the bogie," Sudhakar recalled.
"Immediately I slapped other sleeping passengers. The sting of my slapping woke them up," he said.
Sudhakar also pulled the alarm chain in his bogie and tried to open the doors near seat number one.
"The two doors on the other side were inaccessible due to the blaze. Passengers also gathered around the doors on the other side. Initially people were not able to open even one door. I jumped over a person who was standing near the door and opened it," Sudhakar said.
After opening the door, he started pushing out people near the door to the ground.
"Everything happened in a flash. We were not able to see anything as the compartment was full of white smoke. Many passengers were suffocated by the smoke and they were not able to move out," Sudhakar said.
He said he was able to save two elderly people who had come with a young girl.
"Initially they did not want to come out as they wanted to bring the young girl out. But the girl was not to be found and I forced them to get down," Sudhakar said.
According to Sudhakar, everything happened very quickly and it seems a bad dream now.
Shaken by the early morning incident, Sudhakar, who had come here on an official visit, has decided to cut short his stay here and is returning by a night train.
As many as 35 people were killed when a fire broke out in the S11 coach of the train shortly after it passed through Nellore railway station in south coastal Andhra Pradesh, about 450 km from Hyderabad.
The cause of the fire, suspected to be an electrical short-circuit, is being ascertained.
Twenty-seven injured passengers are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in Nellore.
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