A deadly fire broke out in a moving train passing through Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh early on Friday, killing at least 20 people including a pregnant woman, three physically-challenged persons and two children.
An electric short-circuit in the Secunderabad-Kakinada train could have led to the fire, said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy after visiting the site as dozens of injured were moved to hospitals nearby.
The fire erupted in S-9 coach of the Secunderabad- Kakinada Gautami Express at 0115 hours near Kesamudram station, about 250 kilometres from Hyderabad, South Central Railway spokesman P Krishnaiah said.
The mishap occurred between Tallapusalapalli and Mehboobabad stations when passengers were fast asleep. The fire was first noticed in S-9 coach by a head constable of the Railway Protection Force who pulled an alarm chain to stop the train.
Rescue officials pulled out badly charred bodies from mangled coaches and rushed the wounded to hospitals nearby.
In New Delhi, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad terming the fire incident as "very sad and unfortunate." He announced a compensation of Rs five lakh and a job to the next kin of each victim killed. Those seriously injured will get Rs one lakh each, he said.
The state government also announced a compensation of Rs one lakh each for the families of those killed in the burning train.
Prasad also set up an inquiry to determine the exact cause of incident. "Till now no proof of sabotage or use of explosive has come to our notice," he said.