A Sacred Heart Sister was among those who died in a fire that engulfed several carriages of the 'Frontier Mail' train near the station of Ludlow in the north Indian state of Punjab yesterday. At least 38 people lost their lives in the tragedy. The Missionary News Service report that Sr Alphonse Chelapurath, 53, of the Sacred Heart congregation, was identified by the crucifix she wore. Sr Alphonse was a highly trained doctor. She studied medicine in Germany, with a specialisation in gynaecology. She later become president of the Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh Catholic Health Associations (REPACK), that run various health centres in northern India. She also assisted AIDS patients in Jalandhar, in the State of Punjab. Sr Alphonse was returning to Ludlow from New Delhi, when she died. She had made the trip to request a visa for the United States in order to attend a health conference organised by the 'Global Health Council' in Washington from May 25 to 30. The executive secretary of the Health Commission of the Indian Bishops' Conference, Fr Alex Vadakumuthala, remembers her as "a kind person and a very motivated doctor. She firmly believed that the work of a doctor is much more fruitful when rooted in faith in the Lord". Sr Alfonsa's funeral will be held next Monday, May 19.
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