Utkal Express derailment: Survivors recount crash, say death toll could have been higher

Khatauli (Muzaffarnagar): Mohammed Dilshad, 48, is nursing a broken spleen and a wounded leg at the district hospital in Muzaffarnagar. On his lips are just these words: "Kudrat ka karishma hai (it's a miracle of God)".

Dazed survivors on Sunday recounted the horrific Kalinga Utkal Express train disaster, saying the death toll would have been much more but for the timely help rendered by residents of the Uttar Pradesh town.

A native of the town, Dilshad frequently takes the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express for Delhi where he works, reported PTI. On the fateful Saturday evening, he ended up being locked inside the S-2 coach - the carriage that had climbed on to another during the accident at Khatauli, some 40 kilometres from Muzaffarnagar town.

"We were all hanging precariously in the carriage. Many of my fellow passengers suffered terrible injuries. All, I recall is that there was a very loud and continuous thud around 5.40 pm and then the bogie was swerved over another," he said.

The S-2 coach suffered such a massive impact that all its wheels came off and it ended up dangling on the pantry car, with its one end ramming the facade of a house nearby.

 Utkal Express derailment: Survivors recount crash, say death toll could have been higher

Rescue and relief work underway at the accident site where Utkal Express train derailed at Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Sunday. PTI

"The doors were crushed, so we went to the emergency windows and then, slowly, we all climbed down to the roof of the coach below and eventually to the ground," Dilshad told PTI.

Virtually everyone credited the locals with rescuing dozens of trapped passengers from the mangled coaches of the train that was on its way to Haridwar from Puri in Odisha. Many survived because the locals rushed them to hospitals, much before a rescue operation began.

The S1 and S2 coaches and the pantry car of the train were badly damaged where over 20 people have died in the tragic accident that took place in Khatauli town of Uttar Pradesh. Scores of others were injured and sent to various hospitals here as well as in neighbouring districts.

A passenger from Rajasthan said he was in the S-2 coach that dramatically crashed into a house-cum-school in Khatauli.

"I was going to Haridwar. I was about to take a nap when I suddenly felt a severe jolt. I thought the driver had applied emergency brakes, but by then I saw the coaches jumping off the tracks," he told IANS. He said he was rescued by the residents of the house hit by the coach. "They came out quickly and a group of people brought me out of the coach."

The survivors also said the locals quickly provided water, food and tea not just to them, but also to everyone engaged in the rescue work.


A survivor from Gwalior said he had lost one of his family members in the accident, reported IANS.

"I was going to Haridwar with my wife, our two children and the son of my elder brother. Just two minutes before the accident, my nephew went to the washroom and then everything crashed," he said in a choking voice.

Recounting the horror, an eyewitness said he and others brought out bodies from the mangled coaches, some with their parts missing.

"I pray to God that nobody should witness such horror. First we saw the coaches jump for over five feet in air and then crash on one another. It was devastating to take out the mangled bodies," he said.

Another witness said stones laid along the rail tracks flew in several directions when the accident occurred.

"We took out passengers trapped inside the coaches and sent them to hospitals on our vehicles," he said. He said he and some others wanted to save three people from the S2 coach but could save only one.

"They were very badly trapped inside. It was very difficult to bring them out alive."

Shariq Nasim, 32, says he gets nightmares and his head whirls. "I got hit on my head. Also, my leg got broken. I can't even recall if I was in S-5 or S-6. The mere thought of the accident terrifies me," said the city resident to PTI, before being taken for a leg plaster at a district hospital.

"59 injured passengers were brought to our hospital yesterday (Saturday). Four of them were in critical condition so we referred them to the Meerut Medical College and Hospital. As of now, 39 patients are left here (district hospital). They are in stable condition," Chief Medical Superintendent of Muzaffarnagar District Hospital, Dr PK Agarwal told PTI.

"Three of these critical patients, and one more, were in a state of shock. We first normalised them before sending them to the other hospital," he said

Agarwal said six of the passengers were brought dead to the hospital. The colonial-era hospital has a strength of 175 beds.

Khatauli's residents blamed the railways for gross negligence because maintenance work was only half done on the tracks which the train took - and the driver had no clue about it.

"The repair work was going on. But when it started raining, the workers left the site," said a resident, adding the train was running at high speed.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

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Updated Date: Aug 20, 2017 19:58:46 IST