A night turns a nightmare

Inside the carnage zone: Cries, bodies, blood and gore
Last Updated : 28 May 2010, 17:46 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2010, 17:46 IST

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Little did they realise it was a precursor to a horror of the sort that engulfed the remote village as Maoists allegedly derailed the Howrah-Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express in the early hours of Friday.

Villagers say they woke up from their sleep on hearing a loud thud, akin to the sound of a blast. Some, who rushed out of their huts, could faintly gauge the depth of the disaster in the darkness. “We could hear people crying and there was a confused noise coming from the direction of the railway line. We just ran there and were horrified to see limbs and legs dangling from the windows of the mangled carriages,” recalled a shocked Rupam Tudu.

For the passengers of the Mumbai-bound train, the calamity struck in deep sleep. Those who survived, had horror still writ large on their face. Sher Ali, a 25-year-old Mumbai factory worker who was travelling with his wife, two children and his brother's family, says they were woken up by a loud thud. A moment later, their bogie was tossed asunder from the track.

“My sister-in-law was crushed when the coach overturned. We saw her dying, but we couldn’t do anything to help her,” said Ali, who had cuts on his head and arms. The rest of the family survived, though a 10-year-old nephew was badly injured.

Ali was unable to go to hospital though, because all his money was in his luggage inside the wreckage and he was afraid it would be stolen. Belongings of passengers, including their suitcases, bags and shoes were strewn around the site of the derailment.

Sourav Ghosh was travelling in S7 compartment with his father. “It was around 1:30 am and I was in the toilet. Suddenly, there was a jerk, and I lost consciousness. When I regained my senses, I somehow managed to scramble out of the coach through the emergency window,” said Sourav. It took a couple of moments for him to strike that his father was still inside.

“I yelled at the top of my voice, but there was no response. I then fell unconscious on the field. Troopers nursed me back, but I am yet to find my dad,” said Sourav, sobbing profusely. Five coaches of the train, S4 to S8, were the most-affected, with S9 having telescoped into the one ahead of it. Four wagons of the goods train that rammed into these bogies were also derailed.

“All of us have escaped death,” said Jagabandhu Sardar, who along with his wife and three daughters, was travelling in the S-6 compartment.

“We were sleeping when we were thrown around. But, all of us managed to come out through the emergency window; till 4:00 am, nobody came to our rescue,” he said.
But those who were deep in sleep weren’t as lucky. They were probably hoping to wake up to a dawn they would never see.

Mangled coaches, wailing passengers at ground zero

Jhargram (WB), PTI:

The scene at the site of the derailment of the Mumbai-bound Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Express here virtually resembled a war zone with mangled heaps of coaches lying off the track, passengers in bandages and plasters and a row of hearse vans lined up.

Passengers’ belongings, including suitcases, bags and shoes, were strewn around as ladders and cranes were being deployed to rescue survivors and clear the tracks at Guptamoni, about 135 km from Howrah, where the derailment took place.

Many passengers were seen in bandages or plasters, sitting with whatever was left of their belongings, waiting to be evacuated, while some others were seen weeping inconsolably as bodies were brought out of the crushed bogies.

Rescue workers were trying to enter the overturned bogies using gas-cutters and those who managed to come out on their own squatted along the tracks nursing their wounds. CRPF and army personnel assisted by a sniffer dog and donned in masks and helmets used gas cutters to carry out the rescue operations.

Police personnel extricated a six-year-old girl from S4 compartment in an unconscious state along with another body of a child of about the same age. The unconscious child was rushed to a waiting helicopter to be ferried to the Railway hospital at Kharagpur for treatment.

Debashsis Naskar, a goldsmith from North 24 Parganas working in the western metropolis, wept uncontrollably as he had lost his father, elder brother, sister-in-law, younger brother and niece in the incident. Mamoni Begum, a young woman also from North 24 Parganas, frantically searched for her six-year-old daughter with whom she was travelling to Mumbai to meet her husband.

Passengers recounted the harrowing experience saying they were thrown off their seats as the goods train coming from the other direction rammed into the coaches which had overturned on the down line. The tragedy happened around 1:30 am.

Five coaches, S-4 to S-8, were the most badly hit with coach-9 having telescoped into the one ahead of it. Four wagons of the goods train also derailed. The goods train engine and several rakes after it were seen to have telescoped between S6 and S7 coaches making them among the five worst hit ones. Under the impact of the collision coaches S3, S4 and S5 capsized, while S1, S2 and S8 were partially damaged.

“It was pitch dark and I don’t remember what happened thereafter. When I regained my sense, I somehow managed to scramble out of the coach through the emergency window,” said passenger Ajay Gupta. Jagabandhu Sardar, in his late forties, said he was in S-6, one of the worst-affected coaches, with his wife and three daughters. “All of us have escaped death though some of us have suffered injuries,” said Sardar.

The railway authorities also made elaborate arrangements for distributing food for the other waiting passengers in the hot summer sun. National Disaster Rescue Force personnel from Kolkata were rushed in to help in rescue operations, while the disaster rescue team of the Kolkata Police were expected to reach the spot soon.

9th major Maoist strike this year

The train derailment in West Bengal on Friday is the ninth major strike by Maoists since February this year and third attack on trains this month. At least 216 people have been killed in the series of attacks. Following is the chronology of recent major attacks by the rebels active in central and eastern India:

* May 28: At least 65 people were killed after a passenger train was derailed and hit by a speeding goods train in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district. Officials blamed Maoists for the sabotage that led to the derailment.

* May 22: A civilian and a policeman, travelling in the Tatanagar-bound Steel Express, were injured in an exchange of fire between Maoists and security forces at Banstala station in West Midnapore.

* May 20: Fourteen oil tankers of a goods train were derailed after Maoists blew up railway lines between Dighwara and Pipra stations
in Bihar.

* May 19: Maoists triggered a landmine blast on railway tracks near Jhargram in West Midnapore district injuring two drivers of a goods train and leaving the engine damaged.

* May 17: Over 30 Special Police Officers and civilians were killed when Maoists triggered a landmine blowing up a civilian bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

* May 8: At least eight paramilitary troopers were killed when Maoists blew up their bullet-proof vehicle in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.

* April 6: Seventy-six security personnel were killed in one of the deadliest attacks by Maoists in Dantewada district.

* April 4: A landmine planted by the leftist guerrillas killed 11 security personnel of the elite anti-Maoist Special Operations Group (SOG) of police in Koraput district of Orissa.

* Feb 15: Maoists attacked security force camp in Silda in West Midnapore of West Bengal killing 24 personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles.

Published 28 May 2010, 17:46 IST

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