'It was the most horrific scene I'd ever seen'
“I heard a deafening sound around 3:15 in the morning. I jumped out of the train fearing for my life and saw people crammed into the compartment toilet,” recalled Rahman, one of the passengers who survived the Hampi Express accident at Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday.
“The carriage was a mangled wreck and fire engulfed it. Many women and children suffered scalding burns. It is one of the most horrific scenes I have ever seen in my life,” added Rahman, a second-bogie passenger who arrived Tuesday afternoon at the Bangalore City Railway Station by the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation buses, along with some 120 people who witnessed the accident.
Lakshman T Basapur, a new recruit of the railway department, was travelling in S-7 bogie along with his brother Venkappa to report for work on the first, said: “I was sleeping on the upper berth and there was a huge jerk.
I fell on the floor of the train and realised it had met with an accident killing passengers travelling in the general compartment bogie just behind the locomotive. I was lucky enough as I suffered only minor injuries caused by the fall,” said Lakshman.
Holding a picture of her husband and child, Rangamma was waiting at the railway station after she heard about the accident.
“My husband called me when the train left Hubli, but after the accident, I am not able to reach him as his phone is switched off. I am not sure if they have died in the accident,” said a tearful Rangamma.
Sanjay Kumar, an S-5 bogie passenger, said women and children suffered the most in the accident. Narasimhalu, who sustained a leg injury in the third general compartment, said many people were caught inextricably in the bogie and had to wait for more than an hour before they could be rescued.
“It was only after a machine was brought to cut open the tangled bogie that the passengers were rescued,” he said.
Passengers from the Hampi Express hopped onto Rajdhani, Udyan and Kachikuda Express which arrived several hours late in the City leaving passengers in the lurch.
According to Dr R P Buden, in-charge of the Railway Hospital, Bangalore, who travelled to the accident spot to co-ordinate rescue efforts and shift the injured to hospitals, said eight people were admitted to the Railway Hospital in Bangalore and 10 to the Satya Sai Hospital at Puttaparthi.
“Most patients have suffered fractures and severe injuries. Fortunately, their condition is not life threatening,” he added.
Ashok Ambasa Bhandage’s uncle Eshwar, admitted to the Railway Hospital, said, “My uncle suffered head and chest injuries. After receiving first aid, he was shifted to the Railway Hospital. He suffered injuries after falling from the general compartment and some passengers trampled him.”
The eight being treated at the Railway Hospital Bangalore are Siddalingappa (33), Manjunath (40), Ulagappa (50), Naveen Kumar (14), Durgamma (40), Suhan Kulay (25), Eshwar Marwadi (48) and Yuvraj (45).
The 10 victims admitted to Satya Sai Hospital are Gayathri (15), Jyothi (3), Devi (17), Santosh Kumar (16), Manjulamma (18), Manjunath s/o Kalappa (19), Sridevi (20), Ramesh (29), Yamanurappa (25) and Movalamma (35).