Chennai: The fire accident aboard the Tamil Nadu Express has turned out to be one of the most horrifying rail accidents in the country in the recent times as the toll has mounted to 47.
The government announced a compensation of Rs.5 lakh (Dh33,400) each for the families of the dead and Rs.1 lakh each for those seriously injured in the fire that broke out in a coach of the Chennai-bound train near Nellore early on Monday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday condoled the death of the scores of people who were burnt alive and directed the railway ministry to coordinate relief work.
Senior officials of the South Central Railway confirmed that 47 passengers of the S 11 coach were killed and 28 others were injured.
The passengers of the ill-fated coach include 28 who boarded at Vijaywada, 7 at Warangal, 17 at New Delhi, 11 at Bhopal, three at Agra, six at Jhansi and one at Nagpur.
Many of the passengers were asleep when the fire occurred, rescuers said.
"It was all over in 15 seconds. The smoke spread fast, giving no time to people to escape," a passenger told reporters.
Most of the victims were reportedly charred beyond recognition, especially those trapped in the upper and middle berths, where rescue workers found many bodies.
"Words are not enough to describe the tragedy. I saw bodies of a woman and her child. She was perhaps trying to escape holding her child. They died together," legislator Anam Vivekananda Reddy told reporters.
With input from agencies
Chronology of major Indian train accidents since 2000
December 3, 2000: Forty-six killed and over 130 injured when the Howrah-Amritsar Mail rams into a derailed goods train between Sarai Banjara and Sadhugarh in Punjab.
June 22, 2001: Forty people killed when the Mangalore-Chennai Mail tumbles into the Kadalundi river near Kozhikode in Kerala.
May 12, 2002: Twelve killed when the New Delhi-Patna Shramjeevi Express derails while passing over a bridge in Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh.
June 4, 2002: Thirty-four killed when the Kasgunj Express crashes into a bus at a rail crossing.
September 10, 2002: 120 people killed when the Kolkata-New Delhi Rajdhani Express derails over a bridge in Bihar.
January 3, 2003: Eighteen killed as three coaches of an express train derail in south-central Maharashtra.
May 15, 2003: A burst stove causes a devastating fire that sweeps through a speeding passenger train in Punjab, killing 40 people and injuring more than 50.
June 22, 2003: In the first major accident on the Konkan Railway, 53 people, including three children, are killed and 25 injured when the engine and three coaches of the Karwar-Mumbai Central Holiday Special train derail after crossing Vaibhavwadi station in Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra.
July 2, 2003: At least 22 passengers and motorists killed in a bizarre but ghastly accident in Andhra Pradesh, when the engine and two coaches of a train fall off a bridge crushing vehicles passing underneath.
June 16, 2004: Mumbai-bound Matsyagandha Express goes off the tracks while crossing a bridge in Maharashtra's Raigarh district, nearly 150 km from Mumbai, killing 20 people and injuring over 60.
May 28, 2010: The 13-coach Gyaneshwari Express train derails after track-sabotage and its derailed coaches are hit by an oncoming goods train. 148 people die in the accident.
July 19, 2010: The speeding Sealdah-bound Uttarbanga Express rams into the Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in West Bengal's Birbhum district killing at least 60 people.
May 22, 2011: At least 16 people killed when the vehicle in which they were travelling is hit by a train at an unmanned railway crossing in Bihar's Madhubani district.
July 7, 2011: At least 31 people killed and 17 injured when a train hits a bus carrying 80 passengers at an unmanned crossing.
November 22, 2011: Seven people burnt to death when the Howrah-Dehradun express train catches fire in Giridih in Jharkhand.
January 11, 2012: Five people killed in a collision between the Delhi-bound Brahmaputra Mail and a stationary goods train.
May 22, 2012: At least 25 people killed when the Banglore-bound Hampi Express collides with a stationary goods train in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district.
May 31, 2012: At least 7 people killed after the Howrah-Dehradun Doon Express derails near Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh.