NEW DELHI (AP):
A fire engulfed two coaches of an express train in southern India early yesterday, killing at least 23 passengers, many of whom became trapped and suffocated after the doors failed to open, officials said.
As the inferno and thick black smoke raced through the two cars at 3:45 a.m., panicked passengers broke the windows and many saved themselves by jumping from the train.
A spokesman for the railways, C.S. Gupta, said 67 passengers were in the two cars when the fire broke out about two kilometres from the small town of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh state.
Gupta said the train was brought to a halt and the two coaches were delinked from the rest of the train to prevent the fire from spreading.
Firefighters put out the blaze and retrieved at least 23 bodies, including two children. More than a dozen people were brought to hospitals with injuries sustained when they jumped from the coaches, said a railway official at the site of the fire.