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Thanks to an unlikely hero, not a single passenger was injured as three bogies of the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani were reduced to cinders in a fire that started early Monday morning when passengers were fast asleep and the train speeding through western Madhya Pradesh. Passengers said pantry car in-charge Pawan Kumar's quick response in stopping the train around 2.10 am and urging sleepy passengers to get off, not only saved the lives of about 150 people in the affected 3-tier AC coaches but also helped contain the fire.
"Please help the reporters congratulate the most important man," senior citizen Bahadur Mistri was heard telling co-travellers as they hugged and kissed their relatives when the train reached New Delhi station at 3.20 pm. "He is the pantry car in-charge who knew quite a bit about the train AC system. His name is Pawan Kumar." Kumar was sleeping in the pantry car from where the fire started. "I got up and found smoke everywhere. The first thing I did was to pull the chain. I shouted to my boys to get going and wake up the passengers. We asked everyone to file out. I was screaming - bahar niklo, sab chhod ke bahar niklo (run out, leave everything and run out)," said Kumar, an employee of Railway caterers, IRCTC.
Kumar said after stopping the train, he ran towards coach B7 as the wind was moving in that direction before collecting a fire extinguishers and running back into the pantry to fight the blaze. "Everyone pitched in," he added.
Said Satyendra Singh, who was travelling in coach B7, "The shouting worked. I still do not know how we managed it, but by 2.20 am all passengers in the coach were outside. The pantry car and the B7 coach were gutted within the next half hour, the B6 coach followed suit before the fire brigade arrived." "Pawan Kumar took me out and helped me get down. Everything my group was carrying - mobiles, digital cameras and even currency notes - were all burnded," said Dinoo Dalal, part of the 35-member group heading to Himachal Pradesh.
A woman railway official who was on board the train told TOI : "The place the train was halted was like a jungle and the staff started moving people out with only necessary baggage. It was a full moon night so it helped us see well. The flames were spreading but the message had already reached the railway authorities. I was very impressed that they moved so fast. There was no panic and people were calmly helping each other."
Courtesy: Times of India
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