As they alighted at a railway station in New Delhi, shocked yet relieved, many survivors of Wednesday's railway collision in Mathura city said they got no help from the authorities for several hours and it was local villagers who first came to their rescue.
"There was no one to help us for nearly two hours," said Seema, an angry passenger at the Nizamuddin railway station. She had a narrow escape, having shifted out of the last bogey of Mewar Express just 30 minutes before the Goa Express rammed into it from behind in Mathura at around 5 am, killing 23 people and injuring 20.
Seema, who suffered leg injuries, was still in shock. "Initially it was only the villagers who helped us. I suffered leg injuries. Now I am going to Haridwar with my husband," Seema told IANS, tears rolling down her face.
Two bogies at the rear of Mewar Express were damaged after the engine of the Goa Express telescoped into one, but these were detached by the authorities and the train reached Nizamuddin railway station in south Delhi - its destination - seven hours behind schedule at around 1.50 pm.
Carrying passengers from both the trains, the Mewar Express was fairly empty as most passengers had opted for alternate means of transportation, reaching Delhi by bus or taxi.
As news of the train reaching Nizamuddin station spread, the relatives of passengers and even locals gathered. A large number of mediapersons also camped there.
Most passengers who got off Mewar express at Nizamuddin station complained of delayed reaction by the authorities.
"Help reached the spot only after three hours of the accident and till then there was no one to take care of us. There was complete chaos outside the train with several rumours floating around. Some said the train had derailed," said Bhaskaran, a resident of Udaipur who came for a religious programme with a group of 32 people.
Another passenger Saurabh Jain said: "We could feel electric shocks coming from compartments at the rear of the train. But the authorities reacted very late."
Recounting the accident, he said the shock was first felt at 4.50 am. "We requested for help. But not a single policeman was seen at the site of the accident till 6 am."
Another passenger said he rescued a woman who was trapped in the train. "Later, I came to know she died. If rescue operations had been carried out earlier, she could have survived."
Roshan Lal, who works with Rajasthan Police and was in the second last compartment, said: "When the accident took place, I fell down from my seat and suffered injuries in the leg and abdomen. I feel lucky to be alive."
As children, women and elderly passengers trooped out of the Mewar Express, many thanked god for their safe journey to the capital.
"We thank god that we are safe," said 30-year-old Priya Jain, who was accompanied by her husband and two children.
However, her husband Mahesh Jain fumed over the lax response to the emergency. "For nearly three hours people were left on their own. There was no police and no ambulance at all," he said.
At the Nizamuddin station, a help desk has been set up to provide medicines and passengers were also given food packets and water bottles. The railway authorities also provided them with free porters to carry their luggage.