At least 261 people were killed and more than 900 injured in a triple train crash that occurred in Balasore around 7pm in one of India’s worst rail tragedies.
According to officials, the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express collided with a freight train while mistakenly entering the circle line, resulting in a head-on collision with the stationary train. Some derailed carriages of the Coromandel Express then veered onto the parallel track, hitting the rear carriages of the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express.
Here are some eyewitness accounts of the accident…
“I heard a deafening sound, the ground under my feet trembled”
Vidhan Jena, a passenger on the Bangalore-Howrah Express, said he heard a deafening sound and felt the ground beneath him shake.
“Our train backed up and stopped. When I looked outside, another express train was passing by at a very high speed. I saw four bogies of our train derailing and people trapped below. It was dark and I could hear screaming,” he said. saying.
“I was shocked to see bodies lying here and there. I couldn’t even hold my ground because it was a terrible sight. I felt numb,” said Jena, who was traveling to Balasore from Bhubaneswar.
‘I saw bodies without hands everywhere’
A man, who witnessed the crash, said he saw limbless bodies lying everywhere after the crash.
“We ran to the scene and saw bodies with no hands and no legs lying everywhere. People were frantically searching for their relatives. The scene is too terrible to describe,” she said between sobs.
Another witness involved in the rescue operations said the screams and wails of the injured and the families of the dead were disturbing. “It was horrible and heartbreaking,” he said.
“It was like a bomb exploding”
Venkatesan, a 39-year-old BSF soldier who is part of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) branch in Kolkata, said he felt as if a bomb had gone off.
“My son was on the line asking me when I would get home. I spoke to him and he was sitting in compartment B7 when I heard a huge sound. Due to the sound, we could not hear the screams from other compartments, ”he recalled.
Before anyone could react, the train screeched to a stop and a few people fell from the bunk. “A little boy sitting next to me rolled under the bottom bunk. Fortunately, our compartment did not roll over, but other bogies were completely crushed. If the accident had happened while people were sleeping, there would have been more victims,” he said.
Being well trained, Venkatesan helped people get out of the compartment in total darkness. “I was shocked. It looked as if a bomb had exploded. There were bodies everywhere. It was terrifying. A young man who worked in a pharmacy near the accident site handed out sponges and first-aid kits to people,” he recounts.
He said there were a few other Tamil Nadu residents with him, but they were in no condition to talk. “They suffered some injuries and wanted to somehow reach Chennai and get treatment there,” he added.
‘I thought I was going to die’
Nagendran, who works in Kolkata and hails from Ramanathapuram, was one of the passengers aboard the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express.
“At the time the accident happened, I thought he was going to be dead. He had left Kolkata for Chennai yesterday by Coromandel Express. The accident happened near Balasore. The driver of the Coromandel train braked on seeing the freight train and is that is why dozens of passengers survived,” he said.
Sleeping cars and in general were the most affected.
Mukesh Pandit, an injured passenger from Jharkhand, who was en route to Chennai on the Coromondel Express, said he “never realized when the accident happened, he only regained consciousness and realized he was in extreme pain.”
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“People were thrown from the train through broken windows, carriage doors”
Such was the impact of the crash that around 50 passengers were thrown out of the broken windows and doors of the buses.
By the time rescue teams arrived at the crash site, volunteers had pulled many of the injured out of the rubble.
“I was asleep in my cabin when a huge explosion happened, followed by people falling on top of me. Somehow I got out of the train compartment. I saw many people trapped under a stack of wagons and screaming,” said Swapan Kumar, a Coromandel Express survivor.
‘The lights started flickering, there was smoke’
A young passenger who arrived at Chennai airport told the media: “We felt the train going off the rails. The lights started flickering. There was smoke. I’m not sure how many trains were involved. We were scared. The passengers inside the compartment were at except”. “Some suffered minor injuries. The elderly were taken out of the compartment with the help of volunteers.”
Rajalakshmi, a student at a city university, said she had been in Kolkata for an internship.
She recounted that due to the shock of the sudden collision and derailment, passengers in her carriage fell and a man suffered a bleeding wound to his nose.
Several passengers who had traveled in the unreserved compartments appeared to be migrant workers heading to Tamil Nadu or Kerala, he said.
“I could see some of them crying over the loss of their loved ones,” he said.
‘I have never seen such chaos in my life’
Meanwhile, the Balasore district hospital and Soro hospital, where the wounded were rushed, looked like a war zone with people lying on stretchers in the corridor and rooms about to explode.
Dr Mrutunjay Mishra, Additional District Medical Officer (ADMO), Balasore District Headquarters Hospital, said: “I have been in the profession for many decades, but I have never seen such chaos in my life… From Suddenly, 251 people injured by accidents rushed into our hospital and we were completely unprepared. Our staff worked through the night and provided first aid to everyone.”
He said a large number of people volunteered to donate their blood after news of the accident spread.
“In fact, we were surprised that a large number of young people headed directly to donate blood here. We collected around 500 units of blood overnight. Thank you all. It’s an experience of a lifetime. Things are pretty normal now” , said.
(With agency contributions)
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