Hyderabad, Dec 28 :
At least 26 passengers were burnt alive and 15 others were injured as two coaches of the Nanded-Bangalore Express caught fire in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh early Saturday, officials said.
The mishap took place around 5 a.m. near Kothacheruvu railway station in Anantapur district bordering Karnataka, officials said.
The fire broke out in the B1 three-tier AC coach and spread to the adjoining coach. Fire engines and ambulances were rushed to the spot.
Rescue workers retrieved the bodies, which were burnt beyond recognition. The bodies were being shifted to Bangalore, where DNA tests would be conducted on them to establish the identity of victims.
The injured were shifted to Dharmavaram, Puttaparthi and Anantapur hospitals. As many as 57 passengers were travelling in B1 coach and a majority of them were believed to be from Karnataka.
Many passengers got down after pulling the chain to stop the train. According to witnesses, some passengers raised an alarm after seeing smoke. As the passengers were asleep, many of them were trapped in the thick smoke and could not crawl out.
Electrical short-circuiting is believed to have caused the fire. Senior railway officials from Bangalore rushed to the spot.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy expressed shock over the mishap. He directed the district authorities of Anantapur to render all possible assistance to the victims and their family members.