A train fire has killed at least 23 people including two children in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, officials have said.

C.S. Gupta, a spokesman for the railways, said that 67 passengers were in the train carriage when the fire started on Saturday morning, according to Associated Press news agency.

The overnight express train was travelling from the southern city of Bangalore to Nanded in the western state of Maharashtra when the fire broke in an air-conditioned carriage at about 3am local time, local media reports said.

The train in Andhra Pradesh state was brought to a halt and firefighters and medics retrieved the bodies, according to the officials. Many passengers were also injured while some jumped off the train to escape the blaze.

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

"The prime minister directs railway and state government authorities to extend all possible help to the victims in rescue and relief operations," the statement added.

The railways ministry has set up a special hotline for families to see if relatives have been caught up in the tragedy and an initial compensation package has been unveiled.

Source: Agencies