Indian train blaze kills at least 26 people
Indian train blaze kills at least 26 people

Fire raced through an Indian train carriage packed with sleeping passengers on Saturday, killing at least 26 people, and forcing terrified passengers to smash windows in a frantic bid to escape.

Some passengers were able to break the train's toilet cabin windows, but other victims were overcome by the thick, swirling smoke and bodies were found heaped at the windows and doors.

"We woke up to the screams of 'fire, fire!'. Everybody was screaming", one survivor, identified as Patil, told The Press Trust of India news agency.

Another survivor, Sharad, recalled "we were all asleep. All of a sudden, we all woke

Rescue officials said many bodies were charred beyond recognition and would have to undergo DNA tests to determine their identity.

South Western Railway spokesman "S. Biswas" told AFP that "rescue teams have so far recovered 26 bodies from the three-tier coach of the train while five of the eight injured have been admitted to hospital for emergency treatment", adding that two of the dead were children.

Indian Prime Minister "Manmohan Sigh" expressed "shock and grief at the loss of life in the train accident in Andhra Pradesh" in a statement on his official Twitter account.

There were conflicting reports about the number in the carriage with police saying 65 while national Railways Minister "Mallikarjun Kharge" said there were 67 people, sleeping six to a compartment.

India's worst rail accident was in 1981 when a train plunged into a river in the eastern state of Bihar, killing an estimated 800 people.

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