Survivors recount horror; say they ‘saw death whisk past us’
“We saw death whisk past us,” was the common refrain among the survivors of the ill- fated Indore-Patna Express, with the scenario inside the bogies reflecting the horror they experienced.
The interiors of the less-affected coaches also bore hallmarks of the tragedy, with bed sheets, blankets, pillows, half-eaten food, suitcases and bags lying scattered after passengers rushed out in panic when they were jolted out of sleep as the disaster struck just a little after 0300 hrs.
Outside, a 17-year-old girl was seen desperately trying to locate her brother, both of whom were returning to Patna after a swimming competition in Bhopal, accompanied by their mother.
In the midst of the devastation, there were stories of individual heroics too, with one rescue worker narrating how he managed to pull out five persons alive, one of them oblivious that her limb had got severed.
“I pulled out one old day, who was yet to realise that she had lost one of her legs. One person had blood oozing out of his mouth. And the coach had bodies and blood splattered all across it,” Shakti Singh, a rapid reaction force member, said.
The survivors thanked the locals who were the first to reach the accident spot in pitch dark to find people in daze, still reeling under the sheer impact of the tragedy.
Rescue workers had no time to spare as they said that the mangled coaches contained a large number of bodies.
“Those alive have been already rescued. All that is left are bodies. We have just managed to clear half of the worst- affected coaches,” a volunteer said, pointing towards a bogie which looked like a metallic coil after the accident.
The army joined the rescue operations, deploying 90 personnel besides a 50-member medical team which included five doctors.
Kanpur Station Commander of the army Brig. B M Sharma said: “We have plans to work through the night. We have put up lights. Our teams are already here. Though the railway cranes are working, we have got our armoured recovery vehicle here to speed up the operation.”
He said that the army is in touch with the civil administration and all other agencies, including the NDRF.
“All are functioning together,” he said.
Over 115 passengers were killed and more than 200 injured, nearly half of them grievously, in the worst train accident in recent years when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed here in Kanpur rural area.
Brig Anurag Chibber said the force personnel were using metal cutters to open up the mangled bogies of the train.
Over 600 kms away, scenes of tragedy also played out at Patna railway station, with relatives of the passengers making frantic attempts to contact their near and dear ones and pleading officials for information.
“I have been calling my father, who was returning from Ujjain, since morning. Calls are going through, but he is not picking up,” said Ranjan.
In another corner of the station, the brother of one of the passengers, Ranjan Kumar Singh, begged officials to share some information.
Some relief for grieving families
- Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announces Rs 3.5 lakh exgratia for those killed, Rs 50,000 for those grievously injured.
- PM announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured from the National Relief Fund.
- Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the families of those killed
- Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced Rs two lakh to the family of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured hailing from the state
- Bihar CM Nitish Kumar announced Rs 2 lakh as ex-gratia to the kin of each deceased hailing from Bihar, while Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured
5 NDRF teams deployed, over 50 rescued from mangled bogies
NDRF teams rescued more than 50 passengers including 16 badly trapped from the mangled bogies of Patna-Indore Express which derailed in Kanpur during the wee hours.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) deployed nearly 200 personnel in Kanpur for search and rescue operations at the site of train accident where at least 100 people died on Sunday. The operation was still in progress after six hours.
The five NDRF teams were deployed after Home Minister Rajnath Singh instructed NDRF chief R K Pachnanda. Some additional teams are also put on stand by and shall be mobilised as per demand. To supervise the rescue operation, the DG of NDRF rushed to the site early in the morning from Delhi.
Of the five teams, one comprising 35 personnel immediately rushed to the incident site at 0530 hours from its Regional Response Centre (RRC) Lucknow and reached there at 0810 hours after which it started search and rescue operation.
Two more teams comprising of 79 personnel from Varanasi too reached Kanpur within hours.
To strengthen the rescue operation, additional two teams comprising 75 personnel were airlifted from Hindon Airbase in Ghaziabad at 1001 hours and reached at the site at 1105 hours, a Home Ministry statement said.
NDRF teams comprise of trained responders, equipped with state-of-the-art Disaster Management gadgets and Medical Components.
As the victims are trapped inside the bogies, due care and diligence was being taken. NDRF personnel are making all possible efforts to rescue the trapped victims, officials said.
So far, NDRF has rescued 53 passengers including 16 badly trapped from the bogies, they said.
An NDRF Control Room is monitoring the situation round the clock and is in touch with Railway authorities and local civil administration to render any kind of assistance.
The Home Minister has expressed deep pain over the loss of lives caused by derailment.
Rajnath Singh said there will be an enquiry into the incident to find out the detail cause of the accident.
“There will definitely be an enquiry to find out how it happened,” he told reporters at the sidelines of an event here.
The incident took place at about 0310 hours approximately 60 km away from Kanpur at a location known as Pukhrayan where over 100 people were killed and nearly 150 injured.