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Fire on Indian train kills at least 23 people

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[December 28, 2013]  NEW DELHI (Reuters)  At least 23 people were killed on Saturday in a fire on a train in southern India, authorities said.

The train was on its way from the city of Bangalore to Nanded in the western state of Maharashtra. The driver stopped the train when he saw flames coming out of an air-conditioned coach, media reports said.

"The fire has now been brought under control but there are casualties ... the authorities have gone inside the coach," Arunendra Kumar, the chairman of India's Railway Board, told Reuters Television.

He said 23 bodies had been found.

The cause was not immediately known.

Trains are the main means of travel for most people making long journeys in India and the system carries 18 million people a day. However, the railways have been plagued for decades by low investment, a patchy safety record and frequent delays.

Several were injured in the fire, media said. The Hindu newspaper said 40 people managed to escape the coach that caught fire in the early hours.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; editing by Robert Birsel)

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