Journey for livelihood ended in the jaws of death

Journey for livelihood ended in the jaws of death

Journey for livelihood ended in the jaws of death

Of the 25 people who lost their lives in Tuesday’s train accident involving the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express, six were from Bellary and four from Koppal.

Most of the victims were from Bellary, Koppal, Yadgir and Gadag districts, and were travelling to Bangalore in search of jobs.

“I was half asleep and was shocked to see the coach burning and I jumped out first,” said Rajanna, one of the survivors of the worst-affected compartment No 2.

Speaking to the railway authorities at Penukonda government hospital, he said: “I cried and screamed for help to get them out, but did not dare to enter the burning compartment again,” he said.

Villagers of Penukonda and Bagepalli checkpost, who rushed to the spot, say they were deeply distressed by the cries of women and children in the women’s compartment.“We could not do anything but pour water on the bodies and also provide drinking water to those who were alive,” said Ramakrishna Reddy, a local farmer.

The toll would have been higher had the general compartments been overcrowded. “The doors jammed in the panic situation and only a few could come out,” says another survivor. His mother and uncle who were burnt badly died in the hospital.

Railway authorities say they could not provide a passengers’ list as a majority of the deaths had occurred in the three general compartments.

“We are trying our best to establish the identity of the dead with the assistance of survivors,” said a public relations officer of the South Central Railway.

The accident case is caught between two railway zones. The train belongs to the South Western Railway and the accident occurred in the South Central Railway.

A relief train had been rushed from Bangalore with all material — food, metal cutters, cranes, medicine, and staff. But the local police, on being alerted by a passenger, had begun relief and rescue work from the early hours.

According to Harinath Reddy, the Deputy Superintendent of Railway Police, Guntakal, most of the victims were labourers from Hubli, Bellary and Hospet in Karnataka who were on their way to Bangalore.

Six from Bellary

Four members of a family from Kenchanagunda thanda in Siruguppa taluk and a mother and son from Nidagurthi village from Sandur taluk were killed in the accident.

The bodies of Rudra Nayak, 45, his wife Saroja Bai, 38, daughter Pavani, 16, and son Mukkanna Nayak, 10, from Siruguppa, were charred beyond recognition. The couple’s oldest daughter Devi Bai, 18, and the youngest daughter Papi Bai, 8, survived the accident and are being treated at the Satya Sai Hospital in Puttaparthi.

Lakshmi Devi, 35, and her son Mallesh, 13, from Nidugurthi, also died in the accident.

Devi’s husband Honnappa, daughters Sridevi and Gayathri, have sustained fractures. The family of seven was headed for Bangalore to find some construction work.

Money for wedding

Nayak’s oldest daughter Devi Bai was engaged to be married during Deepavali this year and the family members were headed for Sathi in Tamil Nadu to find some work and earn money for the wedding.

As the news of the death reached the village, Nayak’s aged parents Sunkappa and Sakramma were distraught with grief.

While it is common for families in the thanda to migrate to Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra in search of jobs during this time of the year, this was the first time Nayak’s family had decided to do so. “The family was desperate to earn money for the wedding of their daughter. But fate had different plans,” remarked Haridasa Nayak, the family’s neighbour.

Koppal victims

Four people from the district were killed in the accident. As per the information available till late Tuesday night, Satyanarayana Punyamurthy, 54, from Koluru, Lakshman, 16, from Basapura in the taluk, Venkatesh Pawar, 35, from Kenchanagutta village in Gangavati, Thimmappa, 35, from Gundur, are the deceased.

The news of the accident spread panic in the district as there was no concrete information about the number of people dead and those injured.

There were also rumours that Raitha Sangha workers were travelling in the train, but leaders of Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene clarified that none of their workers were travelling on the Bangalore-bound train.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox