An alert gateman and a railway rule that requires an assistant loco pilot to look behind as the train passes through a curvature appear to have saved lives in the three coaches that caught fire in the ill-fated Dehradun Express.
While Jawahar Singh, a gateman at the fourth and the last level crossing no. 60, immediately informed station authorities at Dahanu Road and Gholvad when he noticed smoke emanating from S3 around 2.32 am, Ravi Ranjan Roy, assistant loco pilot, who was supposed to look behind as the train passed along a curvature, noticed the smoke too and informed Rajendra Lakde, loco pilot and Manohar Patnage, guard.
Meanwhile, the driver and the guard got a similar message from the station authorities. The train was brought to a halt 1.5 km before Gholvad station.
A fire engine from Umragaon arrived at 3.31 am to douse the flame. The accident medical relief train from Valsad reached at 4.07 am to rescue passengers. Five passengers who complained of breathlessness were provided medical aid on the spot. The fire was doused by 5.15 am, said officers. The affected coaches were uncoupled soon after the train was brought to a halt. Five additional coaches were attached and the service resumed at 5.30 am.
“An initial inspection of the gutted coaches indicates that S3 was the most affected one. The damage in S4 was lesser and a minor part of the coach was not affected. Bodies of seven persons who died of suffocation were retrieved from S4. No bodies were found in S3,” said Kumar.
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