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Train fire probe

Hyderabad, Dec. 29: Forensic teams probing yesterday’s train fire in Andhra have begun looking beyond the initial short-circuit theory towards the possibility of inflammable material.

The bodies of 20 of the 26 passengers who died in the fire in an AC coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express were identified and eight of them were handed over to relatives, rail officials said.

The unidentified bodies, many charred beyond recognition in the blaze that broke out when the train was near Puttaparthi in Andhra, have been sent for DNA tests. The dead included two children.

There was no fire extinguisher in the coach of the train, often called “Pilgrim Express” as it covers religious sites including late spiritual leader Satya Sai Baba’s ashram in Puttaparthi.

At Kothachervu, the station near Puttaparthi where the train was halted after the fire and the AC coach detached, experts from the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Lab joined the rail probe.

The teams are checking whether there was any inflammable material in the AC 3-tier coach that could have started the blaze or fuelled it after a short circuit in the AC unit of the bogie, as Andhra police had said yesterday. Railway board chief Arunendra Kumar inspected the coach.