With many of the bodies extricated from the ill-fated Gyaneshwari Express mutilated beyond recognition, the authorities have decided to conduct DNA tests for identification before handing them over to their relatives.
West Bengal Civil Defence Minister Srikumar Mukherjee, who is supervising rescue operations at the site in Jhagram in West Midnapore district, said blood samples of the bodies will be collected today at the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.
"We will send the samples of the unidentified bodies to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Kolkata by Sunday," Mukherjee said.
All the bodies have been kept at the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital. The minister appealed to those looking for their missing relatives to give their blood samples at the CFSL - one of the premiere forensic labs in the country.
He said though CFSL is usually non-functional on Saturdays, it would remain open on Sunday for facilitating quick DNA testing.
The train went off the tracks between Sardiha and Khemasuli railway stations of South Eastern Railway on Friday after suspected Maoists removed 1.5 feet of rail track, rudely shaking the hundreds of sleeping passengers. Five coaches fell on a parallel track.
Unfortunately, even before the trapped passengers could realise what had happened, a speeding goods train coming from the opposite direction rammed into the five coaches, crushing many of them.
Mukherjee said merely half of the 98 bodies extricated from the wreckage of the train have been identified so far. "The rest 50 percent are so mutilated that it is quite difficult to identify them."
The body count is likely to go up heavily once the field workers manage to enter the second class sleeper coach S5. "It bore the brunt of the collision with the goods train and is completely crushed. I am pained to say that there is very remote chance of anyone being found alive in that coach."