Mishap separates families, friends

Monday morning’s fire onboard coach S-11 of the Tamil Nadu Express left many families broken and bereaved. N.S. Veena, 30, a native of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, was seen weeping inconsolably on a hospital bed at DSR Government Hospital at Nellore as her husband Venkatesh Babu and three-year-old son Harshith are missing. With her one-year-old son Koushik on her shoulder, Ms Veena had searched for her husband and other son in the train, burning her hands and face in the process.

Her co-passengers Elangovan, Yuvaraj and his wife Priya of Guindy in Chennai, joined her at the hospital later and took care of Koushik till her relatives arrived from Madurai in the evening. Veena was seen asking everyone who approached her whether they had seen her husband and son. In another case a couple escaped the fire with injuries but their son was missing. Prakash Singh and Sobha Singh from Kanpur realised that their son was inside the burning bogey after they managed to get off.

The story of five friends from Kashmir travelling to Chennai is similar. One of them, Shaukat Ahmed Meer died and another, Riyaz Ahmed, is missing. The survivors were seen searching for Riyaz soon after identifying the body of Shaukat. They were going to Chennai to pursue their M.Phil after completing their post-graduation from the Barkatullah University in Bhopal. Seven passengers had boarded the coach from Warangal, of them one died and three others are missing. While the grief-stricken families from Warangal left for Nellore on Monday, M. Sambaiah, a farmer and father of 27-year-old M. Raju, one of the missing three, could not. “He is our only son. We had planned his marriage this year but our dreams are shattered,” cried Mr Sambaiah.

Meanwhile, four passengers with confirmed tickets from Vijayawada did not board the train, said officials adding that some waitlisted passengers might have been accommodated in their place. The missing passengers who boarded from Vijaya-wada include Gnana Sudheer, P. Sunetha, S. Jasvani, Pallavi, K. Venkata Ramana, V.S.M.D. Mohiddin, Nagarani, Kalasagar Burre and P. Lokesh. Vijayawada additional divisional railway manager S. Subba Rao said 15 passengers including Chitra, Y. Prasanthi, T. Sindhu, D. Ramasu-dhakar, Rohit Shah, Rachit, Rashmi, Surjit, Midhun, M. Suresh Babu, Ramalingam, A. Sreekar, B. Ramesh, A. Sai Kiran and A. Saikrishna who were traveling in S-11 coach escaped unhurt and reached Chennai safely on the Tamil Nadu Express itself.

A. Hussaini, a cooperative sub-registrar at Thenkasi in Tamil Nadu was travelling in berth number 48 from Delhi. He too suffered burns while escaping from the coach. He is worried about his colleague, Jagannathan, who is missing. “Both of us went for training to Delhi and were returning home. I was awake when the fire broke out because I had just been to the toilet about 20 minutes before that to change my clothes,” Mr Hussaini said.

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