|Compartments of a Bangalore-Nanded Express train is engulfed in flames near Kothacheruvu Railway Station at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh state, India, Dec. 28, 2013. At least 23 people, including two children, were charred to death and 12 others were injured in a major fire broke out on an air-conditioned coach of an express train in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in the early hours of Saturday, a senior police official said. (Xinhua/Stringer)
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NEW DELHI, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- At least 23 people, including two children, were charred to death and 12 others were injured in a major fire that broke out on an air-conditioned coach of an express train in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in the early hours of Saturday, a senior police official said.
"The incident happened on the Bangalore-Nanded Express near Kothacheruvu railway station in the state's Anantapuram district around 3.30 a.m. (local time). We have brought out some 23 charred bodies and those injured have been admitted to a local hospital. The fire has been doused but smoke is still billowing out of the compartment," he said, on condition of anonymity.
The death toll may go up as some of the injured are in a critical condition at the hospital, the official said, adding others who survived managed to jump out of the train which was running at a low speed.
Local TV channels reported that 72 passengers were on the coach when it caught fire.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed his grief and shock over the incident and also asked the Indian Railways to probe into the incident as well as to extend all possible help to the victims.
A compensation of five lakh Indian rupees (10,000 U.S. dollars) for the families of each of the dead and 50,000 Indian rupees (1, 000 U.S. dollars) for each of the injured has been announced by Railways Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge.
Indian Railways is one of the largest railway networks in the world, crisscrossing the country from north to south. But, its safety record is not impressive, with a number of people getting killed in train mishaps like fire on coaches and derailment.
According to statistics, about 1,200 people were killed in train accidents in India over the past five years.