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‘I pulled out 18 bodies’: Locals recall the minutes after Utkal Express derailed in Muzaffarnagar

The Haridwar-bound train came off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday, killing more than 20 people and injuring scores more, as carriages slammed into each other.

lucknow Updated: Aug 20, 2017 10:16 IST
S Raju
S Raju
Hindustan Times, Khatauli (Uttar Pradesh)
Kalinga Utkal Express‬,‪Muzaffarnagar‬,‪Uttar Pradesh‬
Coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train lay stacked up after it the train derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday. (HT Photo)

Rizwan and his fellow photographers, who run their photo studio in Jagat colony where the coaches of Utkal express derailed on Saturday, were preparing for a meeting on World Photography Day when they heard a deafening sound. Even as he wondered about the origin of the sound, Rizwan’s friend Sandeep got a call from his colleague about the train derailment.

They all rushed to the spot and were aghast at the scene. The coaches were rammed into each other and trapped passengers were screaming for help. Two coaches of the train hit the walls of one Pintu Choudhary’s house while a nearby tea stall was destroyed with the owner and four customers getting crushed to death. “They are still trapped under the bogie,” claimed Sandeep who described the scene as a “horrible nightmare”. He further said, “We watch trains pass everyday but what happened today…I still have no words to explain. I am still in shock”, he said.

Rizwan, meanwhile, claimed to have pulled out at least 18 mutilated bodies from the debris, many of them disfigured beyond recognition.

A survivor of Saturday’s tragedy, Prerna boarded the train at Tatanagar in Jharkhand. Thanking her stars for saving her, the shocked B Tech student recalled how the train stopped after a loud bang, while four of her fellow passengers got trapped under their seats. “I prayed to the Almighty and was helpless. I watched them die,” she said. Prerna somehow came out of the wreckage and a social worker Pankaj Choudhary took her to a nearby house where she telephoned her relatives in Delhi. “I thank God that I am still alive,” she said again.

Sisters Asma and Uzma were also among the lucky ones; they had to de-board at Saharanpur. However, their aunt Karishma, who boarded the train along with them in Agra, could not be found.

Rescuers try to retrieve the body of a victim from upturned coaches of the Kalinga-Utkal Express after an accident near Khatauli, in Uttar Pradesh. (AP Photo)

Meanwhile, Parmendra, who was returning to his factory in Yamunangar along with wife and young daughter, sustained injuries. “I have informed my employer and they are coming to take me to Yamunanagar,” said Parmendra who boarded the train for Odisha.

Locals came out in large numbers to help with the rescue efforts. Rizwan and his friends arranged for three generators at the mishap site to provide adequate light for rescue work. Proprietor of Durga Tent House gave the generator for free and Rizwan along with his friends collected money for diesel.

First Published: Aug 20, 2017 00:34 IST