NEW DELHI: Limbless bodies strewn underneath a mangled heap of coaches; wails and screams of the injured filling the dark skies. The eyewitness and survivor accounts of the horrific triple train crash in Odisha on Friday give a morbid glimpse into the scale and magnitude of the deadly tragedy that has shocked the entire nation. At least 261 people were killed and over 900 injured
in a triple-train collison which occured in Balasore around 7pm in one of India’s worst railway tragedies.
According to officials, the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express collided into a goods train
by mistakenly entering the loopline, resulting in a head-on collision with the stationary train. Some derailed coaches of the Coromandel Express then veered onto the parallel track, hitting the rear coaches of the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express. Here are a few eyewitnesses account of the crash …‘Heard a deafening sound, ground beneath my feet was shaking’
Vidhan Jena, a passenger of the Bengaluru-Howrah Express, said he heard a deafening sound
and felt the ground beneath him was shaking.
“Our train moved backwards and stopped. When I looked out, another express train was passing by at a very high speed. I saw four bogies of our train derailing and people stuck under it. It was dark and I could hear cries,” he said.
“I was shocked to see bodies lying here and there. I couldn’t even hold my ground as it was a terrible sight. I felt numb,” said Jena, who was travelling to Balasore from Bhubaneswar.‘Saw handless bodies everywhere’
A man, who witnessed the accident, said that he saw limbless bodies lying everywhere after the crash.
“We rushed to the spot and saw handless and legless bodies lying everywhere. People were frantically searching for their relatives. The scene is too terrible to describe,” he said amid sobs.
Another witness involved in rescue operations said the screams and wails of the injured and the relatives of those killed were disturbing. “It was horrific and heart-wrenching,” he said.‘It was like a bomb blast’
Venkatesan, a 39-year-old BSF soldier who is on deputation with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Kolkata, said that it felt like a bomb had exploded
“My son was on the line asking me when I was coming home. I spoke to him and was sitting in the B7 compartment when I heard a huge sound. Due to the sound, we couldn’t hear the shrieks from other compartments,” he recalled.
Before anyone could react, the train came to a screeching halt and some people fell from the berth. “A little child sitting beside me rolled beneath the lower berth. Luckily our compartment did not topple, but other bogies were completely crushed. If the accident had happened while people were sleeping, there would have been more casualties,” he said.
Being well trained, Venkatesan helped people get out of the compartment in pitch dark. “I was shocked. It appeared as if a bomb had exploded. There were bodies everywhere. It was terrifying. A youngster working in a pharmacy close to the accident site gave people sponge and first aid kits,” he recounts.
He said there were a few other residents from Tamil Nadu with him, but were not in a condition to speak. “They sustained some injuries and wanted to somehow reach Chennai and get treated there,” he added.‘Thought I was going to die’
Nagendran, who works in Kolkata and hails from Ramanathapuram, was one of the passengers on board the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express.
“The second the accident happened I thought I was going to be dead. I had left Kolkata for Chennai yesterday in Coromandel Express. The accident happened near Balasore. The Coromandel train driver applied brakes on seeing the goods train and that is why scores of passengers survived,” he said.
The sleeper and general cars were the worst affected.
Mukesh Pandit, an injured passenger from Jharkhand, who was going to Chennai in the Coromondel Express said that he “never realised when the accident occurred only regained consciousness to realise he was in extreme pain.”
Deadliest train accidents in history of Indian Railways
<p>Over 260 people died and around 900 were injured in a deadliest three-train collision which took place on Friday evening, in Odisha’s Balasore. The country has witnessed several tragic train accidents before also that have resulted in significant loss of life.</p>
<p>On August 20, 1995, Purushottam Express collided with Kalindi Express near Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh. The accident claimed the lives of around 358 people.<br /></p>
<p>On August 2, 1999, Brahmaputra Mail collided with the Awadh-Assam Express near Gaisal in Assam. The accident resulted in the deaths of approximately 290 people.<br /></p>
<p>The train tragedy took place on November 26, 1998 when Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express collided with Kalindi Express near Khanna in Punjab, which resulted in the deaths of around 212 lives.<br /></p>
<p>On July 8, 1981, Island Express collided with a local passenger train near Peruman in Kerala. Approximately 150 people lost their lives in the accident.</p>
<p>On November 20, 2016, Indore–Patna Express derailed near Pukhrayan in Uttar Pradesh. The accident claimed at least 150 deaths and more than 150 sustained injuries. </p>
‘People were thrown out of train through broken windows, coach doors’
Such was the impact of the crash that around 50 passengers were thrown out through the broken windows and doors of the coaches.
By the time rescue teams reached the accident site, volunteers had pulled out many of the injured from the debris.
“I was asleep in my berth when a big explosion happened, followed by people falling on me. I somehow came out of the train compartment. I saw many people trapped under a pile of coaches and screaming,” said Swapan Kumar, a survivor from the Coromandel Express.
‘Lights began to flicker, there was smoke’
A young woman passenger who arrived at the Chennai airport told mediapersons: “We felt the train derail. The lights began to flicker. There was smoke. I am not sure how many trains were involved. We were scared. Passengers inside the compartment were safe. Some suffered minor injuries. The elderly were removed from the compartment with the help of volunteers.”
A student of a city college, Rajalakshmi said she had been to Kolkata for an internship.
She recounted that due to the impact of the sudden collision and derailment, passengers in her coach fell down and one man sustained a bleeding injury on his nose.
Several passengers who had travelled in the unreserved compartments appeared to be migrant workers heading to Tamil Nadu or Kerala, she said.
“I could see some of them wailing as they lost their dear ones,” she said.
‘Never seen such chaos in my life’
Meanwhile, the Balasore district hospital and Soro hospital, where the injured have been rushed, looked like war zone with people lying on stretchers in the corridor and rooms bursting at the seams.
Dr Mrutunjay Mishra, Additional District Medical Officer (ADMO), Balasore district headquarters hospital said, “I am in the profession for many decades, but have never seen such a chaos in my life … All of a sudden 251 accident injured persons rushed into our hospital and we were not at all prepared. Our staff worked all through the night and provided first aid to all.”
He said that a large number of people volunteered to donate their blood after the news of the accident spread.
“We were in fact surprised as a large number of youths made a beeline to donate blood here. We collected around 500 units of blood overnight. Thanks all. It is a lifetime experience. Now things are quite normal,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)
Watch Video: Heart-wrenching aerial footage depicts horrific scene of Odisha train disaster