Ranchi: The railways on Wednesday began probing the Howrah-Dehradun Express train fire in Jharkhand in which seven people, including two children and an Australian woman, were killed a day earlier, said an official who did not rule out foul play.
A probe team comprising R.P. Yadav, chief safety commissioner of eastern railway, and K.K. Srivastav, general manager of Hajipur railway zone, started the probe. The forensic team and railway authorities visited the site in Giridih district Wednesday.
The forensic team and railway authorities then went to Gomoh station where the two badly burnt B1 and B2 airconditioned three-tier coaches of the train are stationed.
'The probe centres around how the fire occurred in the B1 coach -- was someone playing foul or the fire took place due to other reasons. The railway authorities are taking the statements of eyewitnesses, looking into safety measures,' an official of Dhanbad railway division told IANS on telephone on condition of anonymity.
Seven people were burnt to death and over a dozen suffered minor injuries when two AC coaches of the Dehradun-bound train caught fire.
A total of 128 passengers were travelling in B1 and B2 coaches. Seven died in the incident. The dead have been identified as Archita Thakur, 5, Neha Ali Akhtar, 8, Anumita Gaud, 30, B.R. Nagar and his wife, S.K. Allena, 21 and Australian national S.K. Allone alias Kati Scanlan. One body is yet to be identified.
The fire erupted in the B1 compartment around 2.30 a.m., and in no time swept through the packed coach causing panic, survivors said.
To add to the pre-dawn misery, the fire also spread to the adjoining B2 coach. Distraught passengers later said that more would have perished if a passenger had not pulled the emergency alarm to halt the train in a remote part of Giridih district.