‘Loud shrieks, blood all over’: Eyewitnesses recount horror of Odisha train tragedy
Visuals of the accident site showed 15 coaches of the Coromandel Express lying on their side, and passengers crying for help.
Like most evenings, Ashok Samal was winding down his day near the railway track in his village of Bahanaga on Friday when he heard a deafening crash. The small-time shopkeeper started running to the track – on the main line between Kolkata and Chennai – only to see a mass of mangled coaches piled atop one another, the result of a horrific accident involving two packed express trains. (Follow LIVE updates here)
“There were loud shrieks and blood all over. Several persons in the trapped bogies were wailing to help them, I saw several bodies trapped under the upturned coaches,” said Samal, one among several villagers who rushed to the spot.
At least 100 people are feared dead and nearly 300 injured in the crash involving the Howrah-bound Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and the Chennai-bound Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express near the picturesque Bahanaga village in Odisha’s Balasore district on Friday evening.
The accident happened around 7pm. As rescuers cut through metal to pull passengers out of derailed bogies, some thanked their fate. Gobinda Mondal was one of them. Mondal was sitting in the first coach of the Coromandel Express that derailed, and may have escaped the worst of the impact.
“There was a sudden crash and the coach I was in got derailed at a very high speed. It skidded for some distance,” Mondal told a news channel over the phone. In the commotion inside the coach, he saw that the window with the iron grill next to his seat had broken. “Someone pushed it and we managed to come out,” Mondal said. Most of the passengers in his coach were rescued by locals such as Samal, who were the first to reach the accident site.
Visuals of the accident site showed 15 coaches of the Coromandel Express lying on their side, and some passengers standing atop crushed compartments, crying for help. Local residents said they managed to take out some passengers through cracked windows, and some others trapped inside coaches because of broken seats.
Mondal said that many passengers were trapped inside the coach. “I could see some injured people inside the coach asking for help. One of them was complaining of pain in the chest,” Mondal, who works as a wage labourer in Chennai, said.
Authorities said the ill-fated Coromandel Express was carrying several migrant labourers from Bengal to the southern states. “The families of some these labourers contacted local police stations in Bankura, Purulia and South 24 Parganas districts after watching the news on television. Since the names of the dead and injured passengers will be announced only after identification, which is not possible tonight, we are keeping a track on the situation,” a state police officer said on condition of anonymity.
Passengers of the Bengaluru-Howrah superfast express shared similar harrowing stories. Subhankar Ruidas, a passenger, said it felt like a strong earthquake when the train hit the already derailed Coromandel Express.
“We experienced a tremor-like feeling when our train hit the Coromandel Express. My coach has not suffered much damage. We are all sitting inside the train. I saw rescue operators helping the injured passengers of Coromandel Express,” he added.
Odisha chief secretary Pradeep Jena said teams of the state disaster relief force, national disaster relief force and 50 fire services teams reached the accident spot.
In a video message, HK Dwivedi, West Bengal chief secretary said a lot of people were injured and some had died.