A group of four daily wage earners, who make spades for digging the earth for a living, were among those who escaped unhurt from the Bengaluru-Ernakulam Express. Originally from Bhopal, they were in Bengaluru for work and were returning to their families in Thiruvananthapuram via Ernakulam.
The group was among the first to arrive at the help desk at the Bengaluru City Railway Station around noon. Middle-aged Antar Singh led the group, clutching a ticket with his name and those of his three friends. Anxious, he wanted to know if they could take the same ticket and travel in another train to Ernakulam. They had taken a KSRTC bus to reach the railway station. Thirty-year-old Shah, a working professional, also came to the City Railway Station by bus from the accident spot. He was going from Bengaluru to Coimbatore for work and felt a jolt before the train came to a stop. “The scene at the spot is pathetic. The rescue team came very late,” he said.
It was meant to be a pleasant trip to Coimbatore for 27-year-old Roshini Hariharan, who was listening to music and having a nap during her journey. But within a few seconds, she heard a loud noise and there was dust and smoke all over the D9 coach in which she was travelling. “I saw people hanging from the train. It was traumatising to see a small boy’s head crushed and a woman was hanging upside down,” Ms. Hariharan said.
Although the incident took place around 7.35 a.m., she said the police and rescue personnel reached only around 9 a.m. “Till then, co-passengers were only helping each other and the local residents of the area pitched in too. There was just one first aid box and residents were trying to bring equipment from their house to get the people who were stuck,” she said recollecting the traumatic experience.
However, she said that some people including herself tried to calm the co-passengers and assured them that the smoke and dust was caused only as the train was derailed and there was no fire reported. While rescue work in the damaged coaches was under progress, the other coaches were delinked from the train and sent to Anekal station. She also said transport arrangements were made till the Anekal bus stop.
Another survivor, V.L. Joseph (52), a school teacher who was on his way to Thrissur along with his daughter, said he saw all the coaches in front of the pantry were derailed. People were stuck and called the Kerala Samajam, who in turn alerted the railway official and the police. By then, the residents had rushed to the spot.
Bhaskar K. (28), one of the injured, said he could not recall what happened. “After the train derailed, a lot of people fell on me. A lot of people jumped out of the moving train,” he said.