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‘A loud sound, a jerk and everything went blank’: Train accident survivors recount experience

Jalpaiguri, January 13

“A heavy jerk followed a loud sound, I fell from my berth and everything went blank,” said a survivor of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express train, which derailed in West Bengal’s New Jalpaiguri district on Thursday, leading to the death of five people and injury of 45 passengers.

Twelve coaches of the train jumped the rails, and some of them overturned near Domohani.

The accident occurred at around 5 pm in an area under the Alipurduar division of Northeast Frontier Railway, an NFR spokesperson said in Guwahati.

A partially mangled coach got perched atop another under the impact, while a few bogies had hurtled down the slope and overturned.

Hundreds of people from nearby villages gathered at the spot and lent a helping hand to passengers who had got trapped inside the collapsed coaches. Some of the bogies had gotten detached from the rest of the train under the impact, while some wheels came off.

“It was around 5 pm; I was speaking to my wife over the phone. All of a sudden, I heard a loud sound and there was a heavy jerk. I was thrown away from my berth and went blank. Later, when I regained consciousness, I was being taken inside an ambulance,” Sanjoy, a survivor, told a news channel.

Some of the survivors were searching for their near and dear ones who were with them inside the train when the accident happened.

“My mother and I were having tea, when all of a sudden there was a sound followed by a severe shock and luggage kept on upper berths tumbled all around. The locals later rescued me, but I am yet to locate my mother. I don’t know what happened to her,” said another injured person.

“We recovered three bodies from the accident site while two people died in the hospital,” Jalpaiguri District Magistrate Moumita Godara Basu said, adding at least 45 passengers were injured in the accident.

Manohar Pal, a local who was one of the first to reach the spot and take part in the rescue operations, said he was with his friends at a tea stall when they heard a loud sound.

“We initially thought it was some sort of a blast. But as we rushed towards the source of the sound, we saw train coaches mangled with each other. We heard people screaming from the derailed coaches. We immediately tried to pull them out,” he said.

The district magistrate said the death toll may go up as some of the injured passengers are in critical condition.

Rescuers are thoroughly searching each coach for survivors and bodies through darkness and thick fog, Basu said.

The Commissioner, Railway Safety, will conduct an inquiry into the cause of the accident, a railway official said in New Delhi.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Railway Board Chairman and Director General (Safety) are also leaving for the accident site.

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