The fire is believed to have erupted in the vestibule between S-2 and S-3 coaches and quickly spread to the adjoining S-4 bogey, catching the sleeping passengers unawares, around 2.30 a.m. Wednesday, a Western Railway official spokesperson said.
“The fire was noticed on the speeding train by a level-crossing gateman who alerted the guard. The guard informed the driver and the train was stopped. The gateman did a commendable job and averted a major disaster,” the spokesperson said.
According to the officials, toll is likley to go up.
Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has expressed anguish over the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs.500,000 to the families of the deceased.
The Railway Board has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Two of the seven victims have been identified as: Dipika Shah of Ghatkopar and Devshankar Upadhyaye of Borivli, while the identities of the other injured in the blaze are being ascertained.
The fire was brought under control shortly after the train was brought to a halt near Gholwad station, around 145 km from north of Mumbai on the Maharasthra-Gujarat border.
Accident relief vans have been sent from Mumbai and Gujarat to assist in the relief operations and the injured have been admitted to hospitals in Dahanu and Gholwad, the official said.
Top Western Railway officials including the Divisional Railway Manager have rushed to the tragedy site and are supervising the relief operations.