Anubhav Das, a PhD scholar, was on the Coromandel Express on his way back home to Cuttack from a field trip when he witnessed the most horrific sight of his life. He survived as he was in the last AC coach of the train, Number H1, and helped the injured people and called the police and railway helplines.
Here is his first-person account narrated to News18 over the phone from Cuttack.
I was at the very end of my train. At around 6:30pm, we heard a very long thud and then jerks which seemed like the emergency brakes. At that moment, we realised some accident had occurred and we had to deboard from the coach to be safe. So when we were about to disembark from our coach and opened the doors, we saw that there were three other coaches that had derailed opposite our train on the other line.
We were a little confused, but when people of those toppled coaches started to interact with us, we realised that was the Yesvantpur-Howrah Express… those were the three last coaches of the Yesvantpur Express which were general bogies and had about 250-300 people in them. We saw bloodied sights with injured people having big cuts on their faces and bodies and fractures on their limbs and severed body parts.
We gave them water and bedsheets from our coaches to be made into make-shift bandages for these people to wrap around their wounds so that the bleeding would stop.
At this point, we still thought our train had applied emergency brakes for precautionary measure and these are the only three coaches which had toppled. So we waited for emergency services… I called 102 and Railway Protection Force and told them everything.
When the ambulances came, they were going away from us. This track was on a road intersection so that was a good part. The ambulances were going away from us to the front of the Coromandel Express. So to find out why the ambulances were going ahead, two of us walked there to figure out what had happened.
We realised that the major damage was to the front of the Coromandel.
Then we saw scenes of extreme chaos, bodies lying everywhere, people crying for help, you could see severed bodies which was a very scary situation. This is when we realised our train had also encountered an accident.
Until this time, our coach was the only one standing with no derailment or damage; we even had back-up electricity. All other coaches were dark and either derailed or damaged.
We helped as much as we could, but the locals arrived at the spot within five minutes and very, very helpful.
Authorities, once they reached, put in place a very coordinated rescue operation and did a commendable job. The injured were taken to hospitals as soon as possible and on-spot treatment was given; hospitals were quickly informed in nearby cities. I also made arrangements for a car and left for my home in Cuttack.
Kudos to all the local people who provide first-aid to the injured and the local shopkeepers who distributed water and food free of cost and even helped carry the luggage of people to buses arranged for them by the administration for the journey ahead. I am lucky to survive; this was the most horrific sight of my life.