In the wee hours of Monday morning a fire swept through an overnight train traveling from New Delhi in northern India to the southeastern city of Chennai, killing at least 47 people and leaving 28 others charred.
Local authorities believe that an electrical short circuit in the coach started the fire.
Once the alarm was raised, the train was stopped and the coach detached to prevent the blaze from spreading. One of the two doors of the coach was engulfed by flames leaving only one exit for the 72 passengers aboard.
“We woke up suddenly when the train came to a halt. That’s when we noticed the fire at one end of the coach and shouted out. People were still sleeping but once they realized the danger they scrambled to the door,” a passenger named Shantanu told The Associated Press. “By the time we got out of the door, the coach was completely on fire.”
A local official told the AP that they are currently working to identify the dead.
“This is a very difficult task, since some of the bodies are charred beyond recognition,” said the official.
Indian Prime Minister Manmoham Singh offered his condolences to the victims’ families.
Indian Railways announced that it would give Rs 500,000 ($9,000) to the families of people who had perished in the fire.