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