As the death toll continues to rise in the horrific Odisha train accident, a passenger on Coromandel Express narrated his story after being rescued. The traveller, Anubhav Das, said that he saw more than 200 dead bodies. “Families crushed away, limbless bodies and a bloodbath on the train tracks. It was a sight that I will never forget,” he tweeted.
“As a passenger on the Coromandel Express from Howrah to Chennai, I am extremely thankful to have escaped unscathed. It probably is the biggest train accident related incident. Thread of how the incident unfolded (sic),” the passengers, who goes by the name @anubhav2das on Twitter, wrote.
Das said, “Three trains were involved in the accident — Coromandel Express 12841, Yesvantpur-Howrah SF and a goods train. Initial impressions were that the Coromandel Express derailed and collided with the goods train (parked on the loop track on the side).”
“Subsequently, the derailed coaches hit the oncoming Yesvantpur Express on the nearby track. Three general coaches of Yesvantpur Express were completely damaged and derailed. Almost 13 coaches of Coromandel Express, including general, sleeper, AC 3 tier and AC 2 tier, were completely damaged,” he narrated.
Elaborating on what he saw on the site, Das said, “Not to exaggerate but I have myself witnessed more than 200-250 deaths. Families crushed away, limbless bodies and a bloodbath on the train tracks. It was a sight that I will never forget. God help the families. My condolences.”
Many asked him if he was alright and needed help. Netizens asked him to contact them in case of any need. Das, however, informed that he had reached home safely. “Police, ambulance services and NDRF teams are already at the site. I am safely home now. Thank you so much though,” he replied.
Local residents have come out to help the accident victims with many seen queuing up in Balasore to donate blood. Policemen and locals have been volunteering to donate blood at many hospitals through the night, said officials.
Odisha | People queue up in #Balasore to donate blood after the horrific train accident in Balasore yesterday. As per officials, as of now 233 people have died and around 900 are injured. pic.twitter.com/3o9mGU0xov
— ANI (@ANI) June 3, 2023
Gas cutters were used to extricate the bodies from under the derailed coaches. Disaster management personnel and firemen were busy at work trying to extricate bodies as dawn broke on this tiny way station on the east coast railway line. “Some of the scenes at the site were too gory to describe,” said a passenger.
Some labourers from West Bengal too were rescued and returned to their homes in Chandrakona. News18 was told that Nitai Daloi, Kartick Dolui, Shital Dolui work as painting labourers in Chennai and were heading to their home town on the accident-hit train.
News agency PTI quoted officials in Bhubaneswar as saying 200 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units were working at the accident site, besides 1,200 personnel. The bodies were being taken to the hospitals in all kinds of vehicles, including tractors.
Railway tracks were almost destroyed at the spot as mangled coaches lay strewn all over, with some having mounted on another, while a few coaches turned turtle due to the impact.
Pijush Poddar, a resident of Berhampore in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, was travelling to Tamil Nadu in the Coromandel Express to join work there when the accident happened.
“We were jolted and suddenly saw the train bogie turn on one side. Many of us were thrown out of the compartment by the momentum of the derailment. When we managed to crawl out, we found bodies lying all around,” he said.
Locals said they heard consecutive loud sounds, following which they rushed to the spot and found the derailed coaches, which were nothing but “a mangled heap of steel”.
“The local people really went out on a limb to help us… They not only helped in pulling out people but retrieved our luggage and got us water, ” Rupam Banerjee, one of the passengers, told reporters. One of the coaches “was pushed into the ground ” as another from a neighbouring train collapsed on top of it, passengers said.
Work is on to try and extricate that particular bogie and retrieve the dead in it. “This will push up the death toll significantly,” a state disaster relief officer said.
Balasore district hospital looked like a war zone with the injured lying on stretchers in the corridor and rooms bursting at its seams with extra beds propped up.
Harried medical staff were seen trying to bring succour to patients many of whom are from states other than Odisha and had difficulties in communicating. In all some 526 railway accident victims have been admitted to this one single hospital.
The morgue at the hospital was piled with bodies in white shrouds, many of them yet to be identified. Hospital officials said relatives are yet to make their way to the town as many train services have been cancelled or delayed due to the accident on the major railway trunk route.
The train crash, the fourth deadliest in India according to available records, happened near the Bahanaga Baazar station in Balasore district, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar, around 7 pm on Friday, prompting the Railway Ministry to order a probe.