Government Railway Police ADGP V Vanitha disclosed that an expert confirmed the use of a gas stove on the coach. The officer further mentioned that firewood and coal were also present, and cooking and storage activities were concentrated in one end of the toilet area.
Authorities suspect that the gas cylinder was smuggled aboard after the coach’s departure from Lucknow station. Southern Railway general manager RN Singh, who inspected the site and met the passengers, said the Lucknow railway authorities have been notified to take legal action against travel operator for violating the law. A criminal case was registered later against Bhasin Travels of UP’s Sitapur.
The nine victims, including four women, were identified as Parameshwar Kumar Gupta (55), Shatru Daman Singh (65), Ankul Kashyap (36), Deepak Kashyap (20), Harish Kumar Bhasin (60), Himani Bansal (22), Mithilesh Kumari (62), Shanti Devi Varma (57), and Manorama Agarwal (82). Eight people are receiving treatment for minor injuries and burns.
Railway officials said Bhasin Travels, a travel agency in UP’s Sitapur, had booked the coach through IRCTC.
Madurai Train Fire:’Lucknow passengers lost their lives while cooking in a private IRCTC coach,’ say officials
Commencing their journey on August 17 from Lucknow, a group of 64 passengers, along with attendants from the travel agency, embarked on a tour that included destinations such as Vijayawada, Renigunta, Mysore, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram, primarily focusing on temples. The coach was attached to Train No 16730 Punalur–Madurai Express, arriving in Madurai at 3.17am after departing from Nagercoil the previous night.
“9 people dead, we are in contact with UP Govt,” says TN Health Minister on Madurai train incident
The fire started after the coach was parked in the yard near the Bodi Line area around 5.15am and rapidly engulfed the entire coach. Reports suggest that some passengers, possibly attendants assigned by the travel agency, were making tea.
Most occupants managed to escape, but those who were asleep when the fire broke out were caught in the blaze. Some of the attendants fled the scene.
Breaking: Nine killed after train coach catches fire at Madurai railway station, rescue operation underway
Ashok Kumar Prajapati, a survivor, recounted that the travel agency staff were using both LPG and firewood. “During periods when the train was parked, they relied on firewood for cooking, and a gas stove while the train was in motion,” he said. The coach was attached to Train No 16730 Punalur–Madurai Express, arriving in Madurai at 3.17am after departing from Nagercoil the previous night. According to the itinerary, the pilgrims’ journey involved visiting Madurai and the city’s famed Meenakshi temple on Saturday. Subsequently, they were set to travel to Rameswaram and return to Madurai by Sunday night. Offering condolences for the loss of lives, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin declared a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to be provided to kin of each deceased as ex gratia.
Amid profound grief, Shivapratap Singh Chauhan from Sitapur accepted the compensation cheque from TN minister P Moorthy later at Government Rajaji Hospital. Chauhan was brought to hospital to identify body of his wife, Mithilesh.
He recounted the harrowing experience: “I awoke to a chaotic uproar and a wave of heat enveloping the coach. I managed to rescue four people, but exhaustion overcame me and I lost consciousness.”
Singh acknowledged that attendants linked to the tour operator remain unaccounted for, and efforts are underway to locate them. The bodies were transported by road to Chennai, where they will be embalmed and then flown to Lucknow.The latest railway tragedy evoked memories of the three-train collision at Bahanaga Bazar station in Odisha’s Balasore on June 2, claiming the lives of 292 people.
Watch Madurai Train Fire:’Lucknow passengers lost their lives while cooking in a private IRCTC coach,’ say officials