Hyderabad, July 30: Ashwini, Shalini, Avinash and Pallavi have two things in common: all were young techies from Andhra working in Chennai and all got charred in a train blaze today.
The techies, between 23 and 32 years of age, were returning to their place of work on the Tamil Nadu Express after a festive weekend at home. All got trapped in the burning S11 compartment.
Shalini, 23, and Avinash, 32, were among seven passengers who had boarded the train from Warangal. Ashwini, 24, and Pallavi, 26, caught the train from Vijayawada with 26 others.
“We had fixed Avinash’s wedding for October during his engagement last Saturday,” said the techie’s uncle K. Venkat Rao at Warangal railway station, where he had seen off his nephew late last night.
Shalini, a Hyderabad resident working with Tata Consultancy Services, Chennai, was returning from a friend’s engagement at Karimnagar. Her teary-eyed friend Karuna, who had seen her off at Warangal station, said: “Shalini had promised to attend my wedding in October.”
An 18-month-old toddler, Harsha, was luckier. He escaped with his life because he was with relatives in the S10 coach. But he has lost his father and brother in the S11 fire, and his mother is critical in a Nellore hospital.
“We will take the kid home to his grandparents,” the child’s uncle said at Nellore railway station.
As rescue workers struggled to pull out bodies — the burning train had just crossed Nellore station when a passenger pulled the chain — the stench of burnt flesh was overpowering. Sources said some bodies were found burnt into the rexine seats.
The sources said charred bodies were found in various positions — lying in berths as though asleep or crouching near windows as if trying to open them. Some were found in the corridor and some near the compartment doors. One was found sitting, which suggested the man had not even tried to get away.
The Nellore Congress legislator, Anam Vivekananda Reddy, said some of the burnt flesh could not be extricated from the remains of the coach.
“I saw the body of a woman with her child lying dead in her arms. She may have tried to escape but couldn’t. They died together,” he said.