The accident relief van (train) left Kanpur Central for Malwa station near Fatehpur 90 minutes after the tragedy, which took place around 12.20 pm.
There was also a discussion in the stationmaster's room at Malwa station for more than 15 minutes as to which platform the train should be brought to.
With help not in sight even nearly three hours after the accident, hundreds of injured passengers walked 4-5 km to reach the main road, from where they reached Kanpur by truck, tempo, motorcycle and car.
Among them were Sushil Kumar Roy and his wife, Shomu. They first had to find their way among mangled bodies and the wreckage.
“The first thing I saw was people lying on pebble stones and screaming,” Roy said.
“Then I saw something I will not forget for the rest of my life. A passenger’s head was forced into a narrow opening and he could not move a bit. All of us tried to help him but could not.”
The couple, along with others, came out thinking help might be coming. But all they saw was that people in groups walking. They followed them to the main road, limping along a distance of about 4 km. A truck driver helped them board his vehicle and dropped them at a convenient point.
“People were really helpful. Cars, motorcycles and trucks lined up on the road, all extending a helping hand,” says Rama Shankar, one of the injured passengers.
When Ranjeet Kumar, an engineering student from Bihar, regained consciousness, he found four bodies heaped on him. He finally got a car lift. “I may be alive but with what has got embedded in my memory I am as good as dead,” he said as his face puckered.
Railway officials in Kanpur and Fatehpur said at least 250 people reached the two places on their own. “Some 50 went to Fatehpur and the rest to Kanpur,” an official added.