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Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 13:24 UK

'Twenty die' in India train fire

Railway officials inspect the wreckage of the train which caught fire in Andhra Pradesh
Five coaches of the train were gutted in the fire

At least 20 people have been killed after a fire broke out on a passenger train in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, railway officials say.

The fire started as the Gautami Express was passing through forest some 125 miles (200km) north of Hyderabad.

The cause of the fire is yet to be established but police said an electric short circuit might have been to blame.

India's state-run railways, which carry more than 13 million passengers a day, have a poor safety record.

Coaches gutted

Five coaches of the train were gutted in the fire, said police in Warangal district where the blaze broke out.

"The fire started from S-10 coach of the Gautami Express at around 1:10 am local time (2040 GMT)," senior police officer VC Sajjanar told the BBC.

Map

"The passengers pulled the chain to stop the train immediately after the fire broke out and people started jumping out of the train."

Among the dead were three handicapped people and a woman, police said. At least four of the injured have been taken to hospital.

Medical staff and emergency teams have been sent by train to the scene.

The BBC's Omar Farooq in Hyderabad, the state capital, says rescue operations are being hampered because the accident site is inaccessible by road.

A minister in the state government who was among the passengers has escaped unhurt.

Railways officials said train services between Warangal and Khammam stations have been disrupted.

Many long-distance trains have been diverted or stopped and several others have been cancelled.


SEE ALSO
Deadly train crash in West Bengal
10 Dec 07 |  South Asia
India's antiquated railways
29 Oct 05 |  South Asia

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