The family members of Mohammed Tahir (55), who had boarded the ill-fated Indore-Patna express on Saturday with his wife Safia (50), had been frantic with worry since Sunday morning as there was no news about them.
On Monday morning, Tahir’s body was found in the debris of S1 coach, but his wife’s body was yet to be found at the time of writing this report.
“We got the news on Monday at around 9am that my uncle’s (Tahir’s) body has been found. However, there is still no trace of Safia,” Sadiq Khan, nephew of the deceased, told HT. A resident of Khajrana Indore, Tahir was a contractor. “Fifteen members from our community left for Kanpur on Sunday and are camping there,” Sadiq said.
As many as 146 people were killed and more than 200 injured when 14 coaches of the train went off the rails in Pukhrayan in western Uttar Pradesh in India’s worst rail accident in six years.
Of the dead indentified so far, 37 belong to Madhya Pradesh.
Like Safia, many people from Indore and neighbouring areas, who boarded the train, were missing, railways sources said.
A huge crowd was waiting to board the once-in-a-week train on Saturday afternoon. Many passengers were on the wait list and some might have travelled without ticket, western railway sources said. The waiting list had more than 250 names.
Refusing to put a number to the missing people as they waited for latest updates, western railways (Ratlam) PRO Jitendra Kumar Jayant admitted the number of passengers on the express train could be much higher than the official figure of 1,266.
“There is a huge rush every Saturday for boarding the train and while a general bogie can accommodate 90 people, usually double that number board it,” Jayant said.
He didn’t rule out passengers with waitlisted and general tickets boarding rese rved compartments.
“We don’t have the exact figures at this time, and all I can say is that the number of passengers who boarded the train would be much higher than 1,266,” he said.
Vendors said there was a huge queue even before the train arrived at the platform.
The Indore-Patna Express runs every Saturday and police are deployed to manage the crowd. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh residents who live in Indore have been demanding a daily train to manage the rush.
The Indian Railways is the world’s fourth biggest train system that ferries at least 20 million people every day.
Crowding is common, as train travel is cheap and the network extensive, connecting remotest parts of the country.