Early on Wednesday morning, just after the Muzaffarpur-Yesvantpur Express (Train No. 15228) left Chennai Central Station, nine-year-old Saketh Kumar, who was on an upper berth in coach S-1, climbed down to sleep beside his father. About an hour later, the train derailed, and Saketh was thrown to the floor and badly hurt.
Saketh and his family were among the 33 passengers injured when the train derailed early on Wednesday morning, at Sitheri near Arakkonam.
The injured were taken to the Arakkonam Government General Hospital.
“The train shook badly and there was a loud noise. The next thing I saw was that my wife Kanchan Devi (26) and my son Saketh were injured. My other two children Sanjana Jha and Shyam Kumar were safe. My wife sustained injuries in the head,” said Chiranjeev Jha, who, along with his family, had boarded the train at Samastipur on Monday morning.
Another passenger who was visibly shaken by the accident was 64-year old Renu Verma who had boarded the train at Muzaffarpur.
“I was awake and was lying on the lower berth. All I heard was a huge noise, and then I was thrown to the side. I sustained head injuries,” she said. Her husband J.P. Verma who was sleeping on the upper berth held on to the grill and escaped injuries.
Siddhaya, who is with the Karnataka Government Railway Police, was another victim. He had gone to Muzaffarpur along with three of his colleagues for an investigation. He also sustained injuries.
“I was travelling in the B-3 coach and I was sound asleep. I woke up to a huge noise and after that I only remember waking up at the hospital,” he said.
Despite having witnessed at least one similar major accident in the recent past, the hospital, locals and relatives of patients say, is extremely ill-equipped and unhygienic.
“The facilities here are very bad. They have renovated the flooring recently, but apart from that the hospital is unclean and does not have many specialities,” said S. Arumugam, a local.
Former Central minister S. Jagathrakshakan from Arakkonam constituency who visited the hospital and spoke to the injured passengers said that he had proposed a 300-bed railway hospital with modern facilities for the town.
“I have written to the Union railway ministry and the request is being processed,” he said.
Trains cancelled on Thursday
No. 16089/16090 Chennai-Tirupattur-Yelagiri Express
No. 12243/44 Chennai-Coimbatore-Chennai Duronto trains
No. 12007/08 Chennai-Mysore Weekly Express
No. 22682 Chennai-Mysore Weekly Express
No. 16086/85 Jolarpettai-Arakkonam-Jolarpettai Express
Trains diverted along Katpadi-Pakala or Renigunta
No. 12509 Bangalore-Guwahati Express
No. 13351 Dhanbad-Alappuzha Express
No. 16324 Shalimar-Thiruvananthapuram Express
No. 12516 Guwahati-Thiruvananthapuram Express
1. I fell off the berth and there were bags and suitcases all over me. There were also some people walking over me
Krishnakumar Sachiraj, BJP member and passenger
2. The passengers were terrified. I could not understand what they were saying as they all spoke in Hindi. But I gave them water and they gulped it down
Desammal Arumugam, former Panchayat president, Sitheri village
3. I have written to the Union railway ministry for a 300-bed railway hospital in Arakkonam
Former Central minister S. Jagathrakshakan