The death toll mounted to 145 in Indore-Patna Express derailment in Pukhrayan in Kanpur rural area, as rescue workers wrapped up their operation on Monday after efforts continued overnight to pull out the trapped passengers from the mangled bogies.
All the 14 derailed coaches of the Patna-bound train 19321 have been removed from the tracks.
The passenger train was about midway through a 27-hour journey between the cities of Indore and Patna when it slid off the tracks at 3:10 a.m. Sunday. The impact was so strong that one of the coaches landed atop another, crushing the one below. Passengers were jolted awake and said they heard the crash as they were flung from their beds.
Relatives on Monday waited at the accident site near Kanpur, where cranes and gas cutters were being used to pull out survivors – or bodies – from the crushed coaches.
Relatives of those who were killed are harried lot at Patna Junction. They alleged that there is no official information or special arrangement has been made by the railways for them for any inquiry.
“There is no arrangement for people like us to take us to the accident site…I’m waiting for a train to reach Mugalsarai first and from there I’ll go to the accident site”, said one of the relative.
In the southern town of Gaya, a family was distraught after it failed to get information about a family member who was returning from Bhopal alone in the derailed train. Sabita Srivastava, the middle-aged missing passenger, had gone to Bhopal to meet her teenage son who studies engineering there.
“We have been trying hard by contacting various railway authorities and even by sending a relative to Kanpur to help locate her. But there is still no news about her and we are left with unending distress,” said Vinod Srivastava, the brother-in-law of Sabita Srivastava.
“I am looking for my brother,” said Ramanand Tiwari. His brother Rajmani was in one of the front coaches that suffered the maximum damage, but Mr Tiwari was optimistic: “Who knows? He may have changed his seat…We have searched everywhere…”
A picture of growing despair, Nirmal Verma said he had found only dead relatives so far and didn’t expect his mother to survive. “Whoever I have found has died…my brother, my older sister-in-law, daughter…” he sobbed. He was meant to travel with his family to a wedding but couldn’t get leave from work and was supposed to join them later.
Roughly 226 people were hurt, including 76 with serious injuries, according to local police Inspector General Zaki Ahmad. Medical teams provided first aid near the site, while those in more serious condition were moved to hospitals in Kanpur.
Anxious relatives searched for their family members among the injured and the dead at hospitals in Kanpur.
Rail authorities ordered an investigation into what caused the derailment. Some told local media they suspected faulty tracks.
“We haven’t seen an incident like this in Indian Railways for a long time,” said the state’s railways minister, Rajen Gohain, according to the Indian Express newspaper. “There must be a fault in the track as 14 bogeys have derailed, and this happened despite regular checking of the tracks.”