Torn trousers and shirts, strewn chappals, soft drink bottles and parts of human bodies lying on either side of the tracks on Sunday bear testimony to the tragic accident in which eight passengers were mowed down by a passenger train near Gotlam station in this district late on Saturday evening.
Rumours of a fire on a compartment of the Bokaro Express sparked panic and some passengers pulled the chain and jumped out on to the adjacent track, right in front of the approaching Rayagada-Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada Passenger train. The darkness as well as a curve on the track near the site rendered the approaching train invisible until it was too late. There was no fire or smoke but only rumours of a fire that caused the tragedy.
Manoj Kumar of Ranchi lost his wife Sweta Singh (33) and daughters Sambita Kumari (10) and Saurya Kumar (2) in the accident. The family was going from Bangalore to Ranchi.
All the victims were passengers of the Alapuzha-Tatanagar/Dhanbad Bokaro Express.
The spot where the accident occurred is visible from the Gotlam east cabin during daytime. “We can only see the train on the down line towards Rayagada from here when two trains cross the curve. The train on the up line towards Visakhapatnam cannot be seen,” said a man who was in the Gotlam east cabin. Further, we keep a watch from the cabin only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., after which this cabin remains closed, he added.
The others killed were identified as Alixius Topno (27) travelling from Alapuzha to Jharsuguda; Taradevi (37) travelling from Katpadi to Chandrapura; Kartik Sahoo (76) travelling from Tiruppur to Balingir; Pakalapati Adi Raju (60) of Seetanagaram in Vizianagaram district, travel details of whom were not known. Lokendra Kumar (28) was a driver in the motor transport of the Artillery Regiment in Hyderabad.
The injured man Karu Pasi (47) of Navada district in Bihar, who suffered fractures on his left leg, is undergoing treatment at the Maharaja’s Government District Headquarters Hospital here.
Post-mortem on all bodies was performed at the King George Hospital at Visakhapatnam on Sunday and bodies of five victims were sent to their native places in a special coach attached to Sunday’s Bokaro Express. The body of Adi Raju was sent by road to Seetanagaram.