Anantapur: An alert train driver and other railway staff on board the Bangalore-Nanded Express on Saturday prevented the fire in an AC coach from spreading by stopping the train and detaching the burning bogie.
The fire ripped through an AC coach of the train, burning alive 26 people, including two children, in sleep and injuring 13 others in the wee hours.
"Timely action by the train driver and other railway employees ensured the fire did not spread to other bogies. The train driver and other railway staff, after learning about the fire (between 3.10 AM and 3.15 AM), immediately got the burning coach detached from the train and managed to contain the fire," Anantpur District SP S Senthil Kumar told a news agency.
The driver got the train stopped near Kothacheruvu Railway Station and with other railway staff got the ill-fated bogie detached.
Asked if they suspected any sabotage, the SP said prima-facie the cause of the fire appears to be a short-circuit.
"Anyhow, we have to do thorough investigation to ascertain the exact reasons," he said.
Anantapur District Collector Lokesh Kumar said fire tenders and other rescue machinery were immediately rushed to the spot.
According to Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police B Prasada Rao, the state police has taken up massive relief and rescue operations.
Fire service personnel from nearby fire stations were rushed to the spot and flames were extinguished.
"Preliminary reports indicate that the cause of the fire was a short-circuit near the air-conditioning unit," the DGP said.
"Since some of the bodies are charred beyond recognition, DNA testing will be done to identify the deceased.Forensic teams from Hyderabad have been rushed to the incident site to collect evidence and also DNA samples," he said.