Tragedy on Kalka-Howrah train averted near Ambala

CHANDIGARH/AMBALA: A mysterious fire on the parcel van-cum-general class coach of 12312 Kalka-Howrah Express early on Tuesday morning near is being investigated by the Northern Railway.

The fire was reported between of the Ambala-Delhi rail section at about 2.55am. There was no casualty and six passengers, who complained of breathing problems, were immediately sent to a nearby hospital.

Divisional railway manager, Delhi Division, R N Singh said nothing could be said about the cause of fire yet. An inquiry by a committee of three senior officers of the Northern Railway headquarters has been ordered.

Appreciating prompt action by railway employees, Singh said a major mishap had been averted. He also said that the employees who acted timely would be suitably rewarded.

Sources in the railways said fire could have been caused by a short circuit. The parcel van had a number of motorcycles on board and the sources suspect that one of them might have not emptied out its fuel tank, as was required.

Rail officials said the probe team has asked the Kalka station to send the brake certificate issued before the train leaves to confirm that the brakes are in working condition. The team has also sought record of coach maintenance and details of the coach supervisor. The Chandigarh station too has been asked for similar data as half the bogies are attached to the train in Chandigarh.

One of the passengers of the coach adjoining the parcel van pulled the alarm on noticing smoke and some flames, said New Delhi CPRO Deepak Kumar. The railway crew immediately applied emergency brakes to prevent the fire from spreading to other coaches.

Passengers in all the coaches were made to disembark and the staff detached the parcel van from the train and isolated it about 60 metres away.

After detaching the coach, the overhead electrification lines were switched off to provide easy access to the fire brigade. The fire tenders reached the rural area at 4.35am and extinguished the fire by 5.30am.

Five passengers travelling from Kalka — Bharti (42), Moni (35), Baby (36), Danish (10) and Vansh (9) — were immediately shifted to a private nursing home in Kurukshetra due to minor breathing problems. The passengers, all from Motia Khan in Delhi, were provided free medical treatment under the supervision of railway doctor.

The Kalka-Howrah Express left on its onwards journey at about 6.40am. Two trains to Uttar Pradesh and four other trains were delayed due to this incident.

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