It was past 3 am in the morning when tragedy struck. Sleeping passengers were buried alive under steel wire and berths, their cries for help far from ear shot. Life for many ended, while a few survived with nightmares recalling gory images of the dead, the tears of the beloved and the missing.
Darkness played the worst enemy here. People did not know where the danger came from when they were flung on top of one another.
A survivor narrates, "the train had stopped a couple of moments after 3 am for unexplained reasons. It then suddenly picked up speed. And then I got an eerie feeling that the train was rolling down a valley. By the time I learnt what had happened, some 20-25 people in my coach had been killed. A six-year-old girl was literally cut into two pieces.
Another tear-jerking story of a father-daughter duo narrates how they headed for the daughter's marriage. But after the accident, the father could not be found. In her late 20s, Swayambi Misra said, "we were in coach S1. I do not know what happened to my father."
Meanwhile, a passenger in his 60s said, "God saved me. But most of the people who were with me in the coach seem to have disappeared. I can't find them."
Ruby Gupta, who was going to a wedding from Indore to Mhow could not find her father after the accident. "Some people are telling me to look for him in the hospital. I need my father back."
Another survivor said, "I was awake when the train derailed. There was a loud noise and then pandemonium broke out. I thought I was dreaming. My wife and children are fortunately safe."
Narratives came from the relief providers too. One of the rescue operators said, "Many passengers crushed by tonnes of steel as several coaches rolled over. Gas cutters were used to rip through the coaches to take out the bodies and the wounded."
Another said, "hundreds of bags and suitcases belonging to the passengers were strewn all along the rail track."
Krishna Kumar, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) spokesperson said, "Most bodies are beyond recognition as they are badly crushed."
Both survivors and the rescue teams commended the efforts of the villagers who were the first to reach the site after the accident. An Uttar Pradesh constable rescued five people from S1 coach. He said,"I felt bad I had to walk over some bodies but I had no choice as I had to save those who were alive."