Sunday, December 29, 2013

Government not taking steps to avoid rail mishaps: Jaganmohan Reddy
By PTI | 28 Dec, 2013, 
ANANTHPUR (AP): YSR Congress President Jaganmohan Reddy today blamed the Central government for not taking appropriate measures to avoid railway mishaps such as the Bangalore-Nanded train fire tragedy that claimed 26 lives.

Whenever accidents take place, government constitutes a commission and grants ex-gratia to the relatives of the dead, without putting into practice suggestions made in the report, he told reporters at the Sathya Sai Prashantinilayam railway station.

"I ask this government and the Railway Minister (that) why ain't the commission reports coming forth? What (remedial) action has it taken," he said.

The government needs to give confidence to the passengers by taking appropriate measures to implement the technical suggestions made by the commissions, Reddy said.

"If you think bogies have to be revamped, why aren't we doing it? How many times we will say short-circuit is the reason. How many times we will say fire extinguishers ..

Chronology of major rail mishaps in last 10 years
Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 
December 28, 2013 Ads by Google
An air-conditioned coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express train caught fire in the early hours today in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh, killing 26 people and injuring 13 others.

Following is the chronology of major train mishaps in the last 10 years:

May 15, 2003: A burst stove in the
Mumbai-Amritsar Golden Temple Express (Frontier Mail) near Ludhiana in Punjab led to a major fire, killing 40 people and injured more than 50.

June 22, 2003: 53 people were killed and 25 others injured in an accident on the Konkan Railway when the engine and three coaches of the Karwar-Mumbai Central Holiday Special train derailed after crossing Vaibhavwadi station in Maharashtra.

July 2, 2003: At least 22 passengers and motorists were killed in a bizarre but ghastly accident in Andhra Pradesh when the engine and two coaches of a train fell off a bridge crushing vehicles passing underneath.

June 16, 2004: Matsyagandha Express skidded off the tracks while crossing a bridge in Maharashtra's Raigarh district, killing 20 people and injuring over 60.

Dec 1, 2006: A portion of a 150-year-old bridge collapsed over a passing train in Bihar's Bhagalpur district, killing 35 and injuring 17.

Dec 14, 2007: Ludhiana-Ferozpur Express rammed a min bus near Ajitwal station killing 16 people.

Aug 1, 2008: A Secunderabad-Kakinada nightly Gautami Express with 360 passengers catches fire near Tadallapusalapalli station in Warangal killing at least 31 passengers.

Jan 25, 2009: Kanpur-Allahabad train rammed a truck near Unchahar station killing 12 people.

Feb 22, 2009: A local passenger-train hit a Bolero in an unmanned level crossing near Barapalli station killing 15 people.
Bangalore-Nanded tragedy: Most trains don’t have automatic fire alarms Dec 28, 2013 #Andhra Pradesh #Bangalore-Nanded Express #casualties #tragedy #train #Train derailment inShare 5 CommentsEmailPrint New Delhi:
 Despite repeated fire incidents in trains, railways is yet to install automatic fire alarm system in a majority of long-distance services. 26 passengers were charred to death in an AC coach in the Bangalore-Nanded Express. Earlier, a fire in the Tamil Nadu Express had claimed 32 lives. Representational image. PTI Representational image. PTI Seven persons were burnt to death in November, 2011 when a coach of Howrah-Dehradun Express train caught fire. Later, the fire spread to another coach and both the coaches were badly burnt. Three coaches of Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express had caught fire near Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on April 18, 2011. New Delhi-Patna Rajdhani Express' generator coach caught fire on the outskirts in New Delhi Railway Station in July, 2011. The automatic smoke/fire detection alarm system is being planned for air-conditioned coaches of all Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Garib Rath and Duranto trains but so far it has been installed in two Rajdhani trains. Currently, Secunderabad Rajdhani and Bhubaneswar Rajdhani have the system which is equipped to detect smoke and fire at the earliest and ring the alarm. It costs about Rs 35 lakh to install a fire alarm system in a train. PTI

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'We woke up to a burning sensation,' recount Andhra train fire survivors
PTI | Dec 28, 2013,

Rescue personnel carry away the remains of a passenger from the Nanded-Bangalore Express near Puttaparthi in Ananthpur district in Andhra Pradesh on December 28, 2013. (AFP photo)
ANANTHPUR (Andhra Pradesh): "We were all in sleep ... All of a sudden, we all woke up to a burning sensation," said a survivor, who played a good Samaritan to help three fellow passengers escape but lost his wife and uncle in the Bangalore-Nanded Express train fire tragedy.

"There were five of us. We were all sleeping.. And all of a sudden, we all woke up to a burning sensation ... There was chaos ... We realized that the bogie was burning," Sharad said while recollecting the horrific experience. He said he helped in breaking open the glass pane of a toilet cabin that enabled three others to escape.

" ... but I could not save my wife and maternal uncle," he said, weeping inconsolably.

Another survivor Patil, who was travelling with his father said, "We woke up to the screams of fire fire ... Everybody was screaming."

He said they managed to come out of the train and walked a little distance in pitch darkness to a highway, from where they took a bus to Penukonda. From there, they boarded another train and reached Bangalore.

"It is as if we have got a second birth," said Patil in Bangalore.

He rescued many, but is still searching for his mother

Sharath S. Srivatsa

 ‘I pulled the chain; two others joined me in breaking the windows in the toilet’

Brave heart Umesh
This 31-year-old brave heart rescued many of his co-passengers from the inferno in the B 1 coach of Bangalore-Nanded Express in the early hours of Saturday, but is still unable to locate his 60-year-old mother, who is missing.
Umesh, an employee with Hotel Woodlands in Chennai, was travelling with eight other family members, including a four-year old child, to Mantralaya. It was also his first trip to the pilgrim town. They were all on the trip to fulfil a vow that his mother wanted him to keep.
While his cousin, Natesh (36), wife Vijetha (33) and their four-year-old daughter Tanushree, escaped with injuries, Umesh’s mother Sudha (60), aunt Leela (62) and maternal uncle Ramanandam (65), a physically challenged person, are among those listed missing.
Injured but on a search
His other cousin, Vivek (27), also escaped. Having searched among the injured in a hospital in Anantapur, he came barefoot to the Victoria Hospital mortuary looking for his family members. Still nursing wounds on his foot and hands that he sustained while breaking open the toilet window on the train, an emotionally choked, yet full of hope Umesh was seen at Victoria Hospital frantically trying to get information about his family members.
Soon after the accident, he called his brother Rajesh, a resident of Bangalore, who arrived at the accident site to pick him up. The three injured have been admitted to St. John’s Hospital in Bangalore.
Recalling the fatal fire in B 1 coach, the fourth bogey from the engine, that claimed 26 lives, he said: “We were all asleep when at around 3.20 a.m. we heard people screaming that there was a fire. I pulled the chain and warned the others. Two others joined me in breaking open the windows in the two toilets on the other end of the bogey.”
What posed a hurdle for their escape was that the vestibule connecting the ill-fated bogey with the others was closed.
Bogey gets smoky
“We had only two doors to escape and these doors did not open quickly. So we forced open the toilet windows even as smoke was engulfing the bogey. In the melee, while many escaped, my mother and other relatives could not.”
He said he had forced his uncle, who had booked their tickets, to travel along with them. “Now I do not know how I will answer his children.”

Bangaloreans among those missing

Sharath S. Srivatsa

Twins from city among those confirmed dead

The journey of life that began together ended together for twins Padmini and Lalitha (61). The two were among those charred to death in the Bangalore–Nanded Express fire early on Saturday.
The sisters, both trained Carnatic vocal and veena artistes, were on their way to an ashram in Raichur to give a recital.
According to Harish Babu, a relative, they were accompanied by Padmini’s husband Narahari Rao, who survived the accident.
“We were informed of the accident by Narahari. He survived the fire because he had gone to the toilet and jumped out of the train,” Mr. Babu said.
The bodies of the twins were identified by their elder sister Gayatri. Originally from Mysore, Padmini lived in Kengeri while Lalitha was a resident of Rajarajeshwarinagar in Bangalore.
S.R. Krishnamurthy (70), a Carnatic music enthusiast and music critic, who was also on his way to Raichur, is among those missing.
On their way home
For Anirudh Kulkarni (24), among those feared dead, Friday was the last day of work at IBM Bangalore. A graduate from the Government College of Engineering in Pune, he had left to Nanded, his hometown, and was celebrating his transfer to IBM Pune, where he would be closer to home.
Software engineers Srinivas (28) and Srilatha (26), residents of Jayanagar here, also listed missing, have been married for six months. Ms. Srilatha, who earlier worked in Hyderabad, had been transferred to Bangalore, her uncle Seshapani said. They were headed to Mr. Srinivas’s parents’ home in Anantapur.
An anxious Omprakash, accompanied by his son Sathyaprakash, was seen at Victoria hospital here, looking for information about his son-in-law Prathap Binay (43). An engineer at Cement Corporation of India in Tandur, Ranga Reddy district, and a native of Patna, Mr. Binay was returning home to his wife and two children after a weeklong stay with his in-laws here, during which they visited Tirupati. “We are trying to trace him. I had seen him off from platform 8 in Bangalore station,” said Mr. Omprakash, a retired superintending engineer from Jharkhand, living in Bellandur here.
BANGALORE, December 29, 2013
Their destination was the gurudwara, but they never got there on Saturday
Rishikesh Bahadur Desai

The Fire and Emergency Service personnel and the police recovering the bodies of victims of the fire on B 1 coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express, near Puttaparti, Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday.— Photo: AFP
The fire that engulfed the Bangaore-Nanded Express B1 coach in which 26 passengers were burnt to death, will haunt Kamaldeep Singh for ever. Mr. Singh lost his wife, Balbir Kaur (52), and daughter, Amanpreet Singh (25), in the tragedy. “I was standing outside the burning coach, but I could not rescue them. I could do nothing,” he said with utter dejection.
Too late to help
The Bangalore-based manager of a private firm recalled painfully: “My family and some friends were going to Nanded. But only a few tickets were confirmed on the AC coach. While my wife and daughter travelled in the AC coach, I got a berth in the sleeper class. The fire must have started at around 2.30 a.m. But, we came to know about it only after about half an hour. I was awakened and saw that the train had stopped. People were shouting ‘the train is on fire’. They were trying to rush out and run away from the train. I could see the AC coach was on fire. Many people had gathered outside the coach. Some were trying to rescue those inside. I rushed there; we tried our best. But we could not rescue my family members.”
The Fire and Emergency Service personnel and the police recovered the bodies from the coach. “But it was very difficult to identify the bodies as they were charred,” he said.
The family was planning to celebrate New Year’ Eve in the Sri Sachkhand Hujur Sahib Gurudwara in Nanded. The Singhs have been organising Langar (mass feeding for the faithful) in the Nanded Gurudwara on special occasions for some years now.
On the ill-fated night, they were travelling to Bidar to visit the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Jhira, before leaving for Nanded in neighbouring Maharashtra.
Instead, on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Singh was found waiting at Victoria Hospital in Bangalore to claim the bodies.

13 train victims identified

Bangalore Bureau

Relatives ordered to bury, not burn the bodies

The bodies of 13 of the 26 victims of the Bangalore–Nanded Express fire tragedy have been identified.
Police and Railway officials said the ornaments and identity cards recovered from the bodies had helped the identification process.
DNA samples have been taken from the remaining bodies in Anantapur and samples from family members would be collected here to avoid confusion, officials said. The test result could take two days, they said.
Meanwhile, Home Minister K.J. George told reporters at the Victoria Hospital mortuary that the dead included 12 men, 12 women, and two children.
He said the families of those who have been identified have been made to sign undertakings that they will not burn, but bury the remains of their loved ones. If the DNA test results, which are expected in two to three days, do not corroborate the identification by relatives, the bodies will have to be exhumed.
The names of the victims identified so far include Sudha, Leela , Ramananda, Sarvamangala, C.N. Lalitha, C.M. Padmini, Kulkarni, Anil Kumar, Subhash Patil, H.K.M. Basavaraj, Bheemiah, Premalatha and Champa Rathore.
“The bodies too were charred beyond recognition. But personal accessories such as ornaments and wristwatches helped identify the 13 persons.” Asked about compensation from the State government to the injured and the kin of the dead, Mr. George said that it is for the Union government and the Railways to announce. Even the police personnel manning the help desk were asking friends or relatives of those missing to bring the immediate family members so that DNA samples could be collected. However, a few resented this, stating that the persons were still missing and not declared dead.
BANGALORE, December 29, 2013
Rail fire: probes by two teams, reports in eight days

Sudipto Mondal
Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge has announced two teams, one from the Civil Aviation Ministry and another headed by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, to ascertain the cause of Saturday’s fire on the Bangalore City–Nanded Express, and submit a report within eight days.
He was speaking to presspersons outside the mortuary where the bodies of passengers who died in the accident have been kept.
Mr. Kharge refused to react to allegations of negligence of railway staff; investigators would reveal if it was a technical snag or human negligence, he said.
He refused to comment on whether the growing unrest among Railway employees had caused maintenance work to slack.
The Minister announced Rs. 5 lakh compensation for kin of the victims, Rs. 1 lakh to those grievously injured and Rs. 50,000 to those with simple injuries.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Railway Safety (Southern Region) S.K. Mittal told The Hindu : “I have sought a response from the Railways. Many tests, including forensic tests, are to be done and reports are to be examined. Only after a detailed inquiry would I be able to conclusively [say] what went wrong.”

·  Team from Civil Aviation Ministry and one led by Commissioner of Railway Safety to investigate
·  Rs. 5 lakh compensation for kin of the victims

Short-circuit may have caused Nanded Express blaze

V.K. Rakesh Reddy
26 passengers of air-conditioned coach killed in pre-dawn accident

In yet another gruesome tragedy, barely 18 months after a similar accident in this district, 26 passengers were burnt alive as an air-conditioned coach of the Bangalore City-Nanded Express caught fire in the early hours of Saturday.
Among the dead were 12 men and a child. The fire was noticed around 3.30 a.m. in the B1 coach when the train was a few kilometres away from Kothacheruvu.
An electrical short-circuit is believed to have started the fire. In fact, Mr. Kharge referred to reports that electrical failure may have triggered the blaze and warned that stringent action would be taken against those responsible if this was found to be true.
Director-General of Police B. Prasada Rao also said preliminary reports pointed to an electrical short circuit near the air-conditioning unit.
Senior railway officials, however, felt that a fire of this magnitude could not have been caused by a loose wire or a short-circuit. Safety, they said, was high on their agenda even during routine maintenance of coaches.
It was the scream of a woman passenger, who first noticed the fire, that woke up the sleeping passengers. Alerted by the uproar, the Travelling Ticket Examiner pulled the chain and stopped the train (No 16594), preventing the fire from spreading to other coaches.
The TTE, the loco driver and the passengers disconnected the burning coach from the rest of the train and shunted it to a loop line. Several passengers were stuck at the exits, one of which would not open. The stampede inside the compartment only compounded the confusion.
Some passengers picked up heavy objects and managed to break some window panes. Many of them jumped out even as the train was screeching to a halt, injuring themselves in the process. Fire-fighters quickly forced their way into the coach and pulled out a dozen passengers. The billowing smoke inside the coach was so intense that a fire-fighter fainted.
Fire personnel and police from the District Armed Reserve found many charred bodies, many of them unrecognisable. Towards Saturday evening, a team of experts from Hyderabad arrived to collect DNA samples to identify the victims.
“The curtains were the first to catch fire, burning faster than we could react,” said Natesh, a survivor from Chennai. Sadly, the older people were pushed aside and left behind in the rush. “My wife’s brother Vivek broke the window in a washroom and led our eight-member family out in zero visibility,” he said. His five-year-old daughter Tanushree and wife Vijita suffered 35 per cent burns and were shifted to Bangalore.
Railway Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge and his colleague Kotla Jayasuryaprakash Reddy visited the spot and announced Rs. 5 lakh as ex-gratia for the families of each of those dead and Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 50,000 for the injured.

·  Twelve women and a child among the dead
·  Stampede inside the compartment added to the confusion

Frequent fires point to poor maintenance

K. Balchand

So far this year, five incidents of fire have been reported on running trains

The Railways has apparently not learnt from past incidents. Last year, a fire in the Tamil Nadu Express claimed 30 lives and on Saturday another inferno killed 26 passengers, most of them when they were asleep.
Distressingly, the causes of fire during 2012-13 have mostly been attributed to a failure on the part of the cash-strapped Railways, which has virtually thrown up its hands.
So far this year, five incidents of fire have been reported on running trains. The two major fire incidents in recent times have been reported from the Andhra Pradesh region.
The fire in the air conditioned coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express near Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh has been prima facie attributed to a short-circuit. In the case of the Tamil Nadu Express that caught fire near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh in July last year, an enquiry report put the blame on fire crackers.
Saturday’s incident bears a striking resemblance to the one involving the premium train Rajdhani Express from Dibrugarh to Delhi just a couple of months ago. The fire in the Rajdhani’s pantry car was attributed to a short circuit in the electric socket. However, no casualty was reported though the fire broke out early in the morning in that case too.
According to an analysis, poor maintenance was the cause of two recent incidents of fire on trains; one was blamed on a short circuit and another on negligence during trouble shooting. Enquiries are underway in two other cases.
The conclusion one draws is that the incidents of fire in air conditioned coaches, which are more frequent than in general coaches, must have something to do with the neglect of electrical job.
The All-India Railwaymen’s Federation, which has threatened an indefinite strike, has in its charter of demands pressed for better service conditions for air condition mechanics. They had no accommodation on trains and in stations, it said, and they had a grievance regarding their duty hours as well.
The railways have spent Rs. 8.63 crore on fire extinguishers during the 11{+t}{+h}Plan period and the current 12{+t}{+h}Plan period. The damage caused by fire in the past four years is close to Rs. 15 crore.
Poor maintenance could also be related to poor allocation and utilisation of safety funds that are allocated from resources generated internally by the railways. This year, they were over Rs. 4000 crore short of the budgeted revenue target.
Utilisation of funds during the past three years has hovered between 65 and 79 per cent of the budget estimates.


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