The Soni family’s world turned upside down in a matter of minutes.
The family was on their way to Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh from Indore in Madhya Pradesh for young Rakesh Soni’s wedding when disaster struck.
The would-be groom was killed after the derailment of Indore-Patna Express on Sunday . Three other family members, including two-year-old Aarohi, are missing.
Rakesh’s brother Sarvan Soni was going to Ghazipur by road when he learnt about the accident near Kanpur and rushed to Pukhrayan.
“I am not able to find (daughter) Aarohi nor two women of my household. Please tell me where I can look for them,” he said at Lala Lajpat Rai hospital in Kanpur before heading for the UHM hospital.
His brother Rakesh, mother Kaushalya, wife Pratibha, sister-in-law Himanti, daughter Pooja, nephews Ravi, Deepak and brother Rajesh were all travelling in coach S-11 of the unfortunate train.
“I never thought I will have to cremate my brother. He was so young,” said Sarvan, his voice choked with emotion.
As the number of dead and injured mounted, more people tried frantically to look for their loved ones in hospitals.
Members of a group of families, which had gone on pilgrimage in Ujjain, were also missing.
Vishwa Mitra Bajpai, one of the members of the group, said they had gone to Ujjain and were supposed to get off the train at Faizabad on the way back to their home district of Bahraich. “It is chaotic at the accident site. I peeped inside all the possible coaches, hollering the name of my daughter Guddi, 8, and my wife Rashmi,” said Sitaram, another passenger.
His family was travelling to Patna in coach S-2, which was one of the worst-hit.
“The death toll is bound to increase. Many people were still trapped in S-1 coach which is now being opened with gas cutters,” said a doctor who went to the site as part of an Indian Medical Association team.