Survivors’ harrowing tales of resilience unfold after Odisha train accident

The echoes of the harrowing train derailment that transpired in Balasore, Odisha continue to reverberate, painting a chilling narrative that underlines the dire situation survivors were thrust into. Among those survivors is Anubhav Das, a PhD student and resident of Cuttack, who was aboard the ill-fated Coromandel Express.
The Coromandel Express, carrying hundreds of unsuspecting passengers, was travelling at approximately 110-115 kmph when the unthinkable occurred. Das, who was positioned in the train’s last coach, managed to avoid direct impact from the derailment. He recounted to ANI the terrifying experience, a blur of pain and panic that unfolded within a span of 30-40 seconds. The sheer horror of the accident was palpable as the once quiet train ride turned into a scene of chaos with injured passengers and cries for help echoing throughout the train.
Das also made an appeal to authorities for a comprehensive inquiry into the incident, highlighting the need for accountability in the face of a tragedy that claimed more than 250 lives. He stressed the urgency of identifying if the incident was incited by the acts of any miscreants, holding them accountable for their actions.
Meanwhile, survivors of the catastrophic incident arrived in Howrah, West Bengal, bearing the weight of their traumatic experiences. The train’s shattered windowpanes and damaged seats stood as a grim testament to the horror they had endured. One survivor, in particular, was still grappling with the loss and damage, having lost all of his possessions and grappling with the fact that his family was still in the dark about his predicament.
In New Delhi, Jaya Varma Sinha, Member of Operation and Business Development, Railway Board, recounted her chilling conversation with the locomotive driver and TTE officials following the tragic incident. Within 15 minutes of the crash, Sinha was in contact with the driver of the Coromandel Express who stated he had received a green signal just before the crash.
Sinha also spoke with the guard of an iron ore train that was nearby at the time of the accident, who providentially survived as he was examining the train from the outside when the engine of the train crushed his brake van. Additionally, she was in touch with the TT of coach A1 of the Howrah Yesvantpur Express, who reported a loud abnormal sound from the back of his coach indicating some obstruction before the catastrophe struck. Two general coaches and the guard’s cabin detached completely, flying off the tracks while his coach was miraculously spared. The Ministry of Home Affairs is currently assisting the Railway Board in their ongoing rescue operations and investigation into the tragic accident. Sinha revealed that preliminary investigations suggest an issue with the signalling but stated that they are still awaiting the detailed report from the Commissioner of Railway Safety. As of now, the exact reason behind the tragedy remains unverified.
Ensuring the integrity of the evidence and safety of the witnesses has been flagged as a top priority by the Railways during the investigation. Sinha noted that neither the driver nor the train were in any violation of regulations at the time of the accident, with the train moving forward only after receivinga green signal and within acceptable speed limits. Speaking further on the impact of the collision, Sinha revealed that the Coromandel Express suffered significant damage due to the iron ores the goods train was carrying, causing a large number of fatalities and injuries. The derailment also affected the Yashwantpur Express, with the derailed bogies from the Coromandel Express colliding with its last two bogies. Sinha underscored that the Railways’ immediate response to the accident was centred around relief and rescue operations. Post that, repair work is currently underway with hopes to have at least two railway lines operational by Sunday night. Lastly, in a bid to provide assistance and comfort to the affected families, the Railways has established a helpline number – 139. Operated by senior officers, this helpline aims to connect with as many people as possible and ensure those who’ve lost or have injured loved ones are able to receive information and assistance.

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