Madurai Train Fire: Tragedy Occurred When A Gas Cylinder, Reportedly Being Used By Passengers to make Tea Inside The Train, Ignited A fire
Madurai, 26 August (City Times): Madurai Train Fire: A horrifying incident unfolded early on Saturday as a stationary train compartment near Madurai railway station became engulfed in flames, claiming the lives of at least Ten people. The tragedy occurred when a gas cylinder, reportedly being used by passengers to make tea inside the train, ignited a devastating fire.
Quick Response by Firefighters
The fire erupted in the private party coach of the Punalur-Madurai Express while it was stationed in the Madurai yard at around 5:15 am. The authorities quickly dispatched firefighters to the scene, and the flames were brought under control by 7:15 am, preventing further destruction.
Religious Trip Turns Tragic
Tamil Nadu Minister for Commercial Taxes, P Moorthy, representing Madurai East, addressed the media, revealing that the victims were all on a religious trip and hailed from Uttar Pradesh. The ill-fated passengers had locked themselves inside the party coach for their safety. Unfortunately, the stove used to prepare tea led to a blast, claiming the lives of nine individuals.
There was no damage to any other coaches
fire erupted in a private party coach near Madurai yard on the morning of August 26, 2023, at around 5:15 hours. The alert station official immediately reported the fire, leading to swift action. Fire services were promptly informed, and they arrived at the scene by 5:45 hours. The determined efforts of the firefighters led to the successful extinguishing of the fire by 7:15 hours. Thankfully, there was no damage to any other coaches in the vicinity.
Smuggled Gas Cylinder Leads to Disaster
Investigations revealed that the cause of the fire was an illegally smuggled gas cylinder within the private party coach. This illicit act led to the disastrous blaze. Observant passengers noticed the fire and managed to evacuate from the coach, while some individuals safely exited the coach upon reaching the platform.
Journeys and Safety Violations
The private party coach, attached at Nagercoil Junction on August 25, 2023, by train number 16730 (Punalur-Madurai Express), reached Madurai at 3:47 am. Following its arrival, the party coach was detached and stationed at the Madurai Stabling line. These coaches are intended for the convenience of individuals who book them through the IRCTC portal, with the understanding that they are strictly for transportation purposes. However, in this case, the tragedy unfolded due to the illegal presence of a gas cylinder within the coach.
The incident sheds light on the significance of adhering to safety regulations and guidelines while using train services. It also underscores the importance of preventing the transportation of inflammable materials, such as gas cylinders, within the coaches. The swift and effective response by authorities helped mitigate the extent of the damage, highlighting the critical role of proactive measures in ensuring passenger safety.
Rescue Efforts and Injuries
Madurai District Collector, M S Sangeetha, informed that seven people sustained minor injuries in the incident and were treated at the Government Rajaji Hospital and the Railway Hospital. The tragic incident claimed the lives of six male passengers and three female passengers, all aged above 50 years.
Chain of Events Unfolded
According to initial investigations, the passengers had used a gas cylinder to make tea, assuming the train was halted in an unfamiliar location. Fearing for their safety, they locked themselves inside the coach. When the cylinder exploded, panic ensued as the locked door prevented a swift escape. The passengers resorted to breaking the door and jumping from the coach to escape the flames.
Probe and Statement: Official Reactions
Southern Railways issued a statement indicating that the train had arrived in Madurai at 3:47 am. The party coach was detached and parked at the Madurai stabling line. The Rail Divisional Manager in Madurai confirmed that only the party coach was affected, and train services remained uninterrupted.
Safety Violation: Illicit Use of Gas Cylinder
Authorities discovered that the passengers had unlawfully brought a gas cylinder aboard the party coach. This breach of safety regulations led to the catastrophic fire. Some passengers managed to evacuate, while others alighted on the platform.
Past Journey and Future Plans
The party coach embarked on its journey from Lucknow on August 17. The passengers had plans to return to Chennai via Train number 16284 Kollam-Chennai Egmore Ananthapuri Express and then to Lucknow. The party coach, intended solely for transportation, was booked through the IRCTC portal.
Helpline for Support
In response to the tragedy, Southern Railway has established helpline numbers to provide information and support to those affected by the fire accident. The incident has left the community in shock, highlighting the importance of adhering to safety regulations during travel.
Strict Consequences for Violating Railways Act
Carrying materials deemed inflammable and explosives within train compartments has been categorized as a serious offence under the Railways Act. The provisions of sections 67, 164, and 165 of the Railways Act of 1989 outline the gravity of this offense, with legal ramifications in place to ensure the safety and security of passengers and railway infrastructure.
Inflammable Articles: A Restricted Domain
The list of materials categorized as inflammable encompasses a range of items, including gas cylinders, crackers, acid, kerosene, petrol, thermic welding equipment, stoves, and more. The prohibition against transporting these potentially hazardous materials within train compartments is enforced to avert calamitous situations and protect passengers from harm.
Regulation Reinforcement: Written Declarations
Para 9 of the Railway Manual reinforces the stringent regulation pertaining to carrying inflammable articles. Private tourist parties embarking on train journeys are mandated to provide written declarations affirming their commitment to refraining from transporting any inflammable items. This additional layer of precaution is designed to uphold passenger safety and thwart the possibility of accidents caused by negligence.
Declaration in Vain: A Disastrous Incident
Tragedy struck in a private party tourist coach situated at the Madurai yard on August 26, 2023. Despite submitting the required declaration promising compliance with safety regulations, the party flouted these rules. Illegally transporting a gas cylinder, along with a stove and other inflammable articles, within the coach led to a devastating fire incident.
The incident serves as a somber reminder of the grave consequences that can arise from disregarding safety guidelines. Adherence to these regulations is pivotal not only for the passengers’ well-being but also to safeguard the sanctity of railway travel and infrastructure.