Survivors recall Odisha train crash: Many dead within seconds

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One survivor of the Balasore train accident recalls that the Coromandel Express was running smoothly until suddenly, within a mere 30-40 seconds, they witnessed numerous fatalities and injuries.

Rescue work in Balasore is captured in an image following the devastating train crash. (Photo by PTI)

The nation is in shock as the horrific rail accident in Balasore, Odisha, has tragically claimed the lives of at least 288 people, with 900 others sustaining injuries. This devastating incident involved two passenger trains, namely the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, along with a goods train.

The unreserved compartments of these trains were overcrowded, filled with migrant workers en route to Tamil Nadu or Kerala. For the survivors, Friday’s journey turned into a harrowing nightmare.

Nagendran, a passenger on the ill-fated Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, shared his harrowing experience upon arriving at Chennai airport. Hailing from Ramanathapuram and working in Kolkata, he recounted the terrifying moment of the accident near Balasore, thinking he would not survive.

Nagendran mentioned that the train driver applied brakes upon spotting the goods train, which potentially saved many lives. While compartments B1 to B4 remained unaffected, the B5 coach had derailed. In the darkness, volunteers were the first to arrive and provide assistance.

Nagendran expressed disbelief that they had managed to survive while so many others had tragically lost their lives.

A woman passenger, who arrived at Chennai airport on Saturday, vividly recalled the terrifying moment when the coaches of the train derailed. She described feeling the train shaking and witnessing flickering lights, accompanied by smoke. Although unsure about the exact number of trains involved in the incident, fear gripped everyone onboard.

Fortunately, passengers inside the compartment remained safe, with only minor injuries reported. The volunteers played a crucial role in assisting the elderly passengers, helping them exit the compartment.

The accident site was filled with horrifying scenes as visuals depicted derailed and overturned coaches, severely damaged train compartments, and numerous individuals striving to rescue trapped passengers. The railway tracks appeared almost destroyed, while the mangled remnants of the train coaches lay scattered in disarray.

The accident entailed the collision of the Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Express, and a goods train. (Photo by PTI)

Pijush Poddar, a resident of Berhampore in West Bengal, was on his way to Tamil Nadu for work on the ill-fated Coromandel Express when the accident occurred. He recounted the moment of impact, describing how the train bogie suddenly tipped to one side, causing many passengers to be thrown out due to the force of the derailment. As they managed to crawl out, a devastating sight greeted them—lifeless bodies strewn all around.

Rajalakshmi, a college student who had been in Kolkata for an internship, shared the chaotic aftermath of the accident. She witnessed some individuals grieving and wailing for their lost loved ones.

Another passenger, Ramesh from Tenkasi district, expressed the enormity of the disaster, suggesting that the death toll might be higher than initially estimated.

Anubhav Das, a passenger onboard the Coromandel Express, recounted the smooth journey before everything took a devastating turn. The train was traveling at a speed of around 110-115 kmph when suddenly, within a mere 30-40 seconds, the accident occurred. Anubhav witnessed numerous people injured and deceased, with cries for help echoing everywhere.

The train accident resulted in a tragic loss of at least 280 lives, with over 900 individuals sustaining injuries. (Photo by PTI)

One survivor of the Balasore train accident, still in shock, has not yet informed his family about his narrow escape from death. He expressed the horrific nature of the incident, stating that he had never witnessed anything like it before. Traveling from Bihar to Chennai, he emphasized the need to share the news with his family.

The train crash took place near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore district, approximately 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar, at around 7 pm on Friday. Immediate rescue efforts were launched by authorities, with approximately 200 ambulances, 50 buses, and 45 mobile health units deployed at the accident site. Additionally, 1,200 personnel were present to transport the injured to hospitals.

The Indian Air Force also dispatched two rescue helicopters equipped with medical teams to evacuate critically injured passengers. State Special Relief Commissioner Satyabrata Sahoo confirmed that the injured individuals were receiving treatment in various hospitals. Both government and private hospitals in nearby districts, including the AIIMS in Bhubaneswar, were utilized to provide medical assistance to the victims.

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Toshika Chauhan

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