When Rudrappa Naik, a farm labourer from Bellary district, boarded the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express on Monday with wife Hemavati, son Muttanna, 8, daughter Pavani Bai, 10, and a relative, it was in the hope of a better future. It was sugarcane harvesting season in Tamil Nadu and the family, which was in a financial crisis, hoped to find some employment there.
On Tuesday, a stony silence enveloped the Naiks’ home in Kenchalahalli Tanda village where Rudrappa’s parents live. It was confirmed. All five had died in the train accident.
Ratnamma, 30, had also boarded the same train, along with 20 others, at Gooty in Andhra Pradesh. She survived to see death and mutilation and charring of people.
Jolted sharply out of her sleep around 3.15am when the train stopped with a loud thud, Ratnamma saw her husband fall from the upper berth. “First I thought it was an earthquake. It was only when I saw other passengers jostling to get out, throwing their luggage outside and women wailing, did I realise something was wrong. When we got down, it was a blood curdling sight,” she said.
One of the bogies was in flames, charred bodies were all around and bleeding and injured passengers, including small children, were crying for help. “I will never be able to forget what I saw,” she said, tears streaming down her face.
Narsimrallu, who had initially boarded the first bogie, but later moved to the second to join his friends, was one of the luckier ones. “I landed on the floor in my sleep.”
“The second bogie went up in the air and landed on the third. Everyone inside the second bogie escaped with minor injuries,” said Rahman, who was travelling from Bellary.