Amid cries of help and sobbing, Virendra Singh opened his eyes, only to realise blood was gushing out of his head and running down his face. Next to him lay bodies of co-passengers he had been talking to just a while ago.
Singh then clambered over the bodies and the strewn luggage — handbags, suitcases, and mobile phones — and walked towards the gate.
As he walked, he looked out of the broken window and froze. From his vantage point, he could see his carriage, A-1, lying upright on another carriage.
Just minutes earlier, the speeding Kalka Mail in which he was travelling had derailed, trapping hundreds of passengers in the mangled mess.
“I was terrified when I realised I was at a height of at least 40 feet,” Singh said. “It was like walking a steep incline. I was struggling with every step.”
Singh began to panic and looked around frantically for an opening to get out. He soon spotted two persons, Joyanti Banerjee and her daughter Polomi, moving. They had cuts all over their bodies. The three huddled and began to look for ways to get out of the train.
“The only thing that ran on our minds was how to get out of this coach alive,” Banerjee said.
Singh soon found a way. He collected some bed sheets and tied them together. He then tried to smash the compressed glass on the window. Eventually the window cracked and they succeeded in making a large opening.
Singh tied one end of the bed sheets to a seat and let the other hang out of the window. He helped Banerjee and Polomi climb down.
But when Singh tried to climb down himself, bags and suitcases began falling all over him. As the luck would have it, he saw some policemen coming up with a ladder.
“They brought me down. The moment I put my foot on the soil, I just wanted to run away as fast as I could,” Singh said. “People I was talking to minutes before were smeared in blood lying motionless.”
Lucky error saves 4 friends
Any other day, they would have regretted not buying tickets early enough to ensure they have confirmed berths. But on Sunday, Akhilesh Kumar, Rajesh Chowdhary, Anoop Pandey and Virendra Singh Bisht could only thank their stars for the mistake.
The four friends, who work for the same company in Delhi, had gone on an official trip to Asansol. They could not get confirmed tickets for the return journey on Kalka Mail. Yet they got into the sleeper coach, S4.
They were sitting at the gate when the packed train derailed. “The train swayed two or three times before all that happened,” Kumar said.
Their coach was thrown over the S3 coach, while the four friends were flung out in the open. “I thank God I didn’t lose any of my friends,” said Bisht.