Sainthia survivors narrate gory tales of rescue

Last Updated 19 July 2010, 17:15 IST

As rescue workers equipped with gas cutters undertook the savage task of extricating the bodies from the mangled heap of twisted metal and steel, blood-spattered limbs and torsos of bodies tumbled out of the two demolished unreserved compartments of the Vananchal Express that bore the massive hit in the wee hours of Monday when it collided with the Uttarbanga Express.

“A sudden jerk and a deafening sound woke me up in the dead of the night. And what I saw when I came to my senses, I ought to forget it. A horrible sight indeed,”  recalled Saraswati, a middle-aged lady.

“I could see the sky and the coach ahead of us. In the dim light, I could make out people, crying having lost their upper or lower limbs. Some others had lost the upper parts of the body and hanging from the coach. Shocking!” shivered Saraswati, who broke her left wrist and got a gashing wound in the right leg.

The accident plunged both the trains into darkness. Confusion prevailed as passengers fell on others, trying to figure out what had exactly happened. Some thought that the train had derailed.

Fortunately for Saraswati, her four-year-old daughter sleeping with her managed to escape any serious injury.

“I was in the second compartment. It was around 2:15 or 2:20 am when I heard a loud explosion and there was a heavy jerking. I fell down from my berth. There was chaos inside the compartment as the passengers thought it was another case of sabotage,” recalled Sanjoy Ghosh, who boarded Uttarbanga Express from Maldah station.

It was only when Ghosh managed to come out of the coach that he could gauge the dimension of the diaster. “I was numbed to see dismembered bodies and blood-spattered limbs thrown on the roofs of other bogies, one of which was mounted on the footbrigde of the station. I mean the impact of the collision was so severe,” said Ghosh.

In fact, when the rescuers arrived and started to cut through the metal sheet of one such compartment, they heard faint cries of a child; as one of them tried to reach the source of the sound, the cries ended abruptly indicating the inevitable. Of the three rear bogies, which were hit from behind, one mounted the foot bridge of the station and the other two hang perilously. A railway crane later in the afternoon brought down the engine from the bridge.
It was just a sheer quirk of fate that the guard of the Vananchal Express failed to escape death. Railway sources quoting eyewitnesses say the guard of the Vananchal Express, who was alerted by some hawkers about the approaching train (Uttarbanga) from behind, failed to collect himself fast and jump off on the platform as the Uttarbanga Express hurtled along too soon to give him an opportunity.

(Published 19 July 2010, 17:15 IST)

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