BANGALORE, December 29, 2013: The fire that engulfed the Bangalore-Nanded Express B1 coach in which 26 passengers were burnt to death, will haunt Kamaldeep Singh for ever. Mr. Singh lost his wife, Balbir Kaur (52), and daughter, Amanpreet Singh (25), in the tragedy. “I was standing outside the burning coach, but I could not rescue them. I could do nothing,” he said with utter dejection.
Too late to help
The Bangalore-based manager of a private firm recalled painfully: “My family and some friends were going to Nanded. But only a few tickets were confirmed on the AC coach. While my wife and daughter travelled in the AC coach, I got a berth in the sleeper class. The fire must have started at around 2.30 a.m. But, we came to know about it only after about half an hour. I was awakened and saw that the train had stopped. People were shouting ‘the train is on fire’. They were trying to rush out and run away from the train. I could see the AC coach was on fire. Many people had gathered outside the coach. Some were trying to rescue those inside. I rushed there; we tried our best. But we could not rescue my family members.”
The Fire and Emergency Service personnel and the police recovered the bodies from the coach. “But it was very difficult to identify the bodies as they were charred,” he said.
The family was planning to celebrate New Year’ Eve in the Sri Sachkhand Hujur Sahib Gurudwara in Nanded. The Singhs have been organising Langar (mass feeding for the faithful) in the Nanded Gurudwara on special occasions for some years now.
On the ill-fated night, they were travelling to Bidar to visit the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Jhira, before leaving for Nanded in neighbouring Maharashtra. Instead, on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Singh was found waiting at Victoria Hospital in Bangalore to claim the bodies.