Sunday, Dec 22, 2002
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By Our Staff Reporter
Returning from the National Games, the 24-member Karnataka Amateur Athletic Association contingent escaped death and was secure in the coach S-9. But their survival saved the lives many passengers as the athletes took on the mantle of saviours. They pulled out bodies from the wreckage and extricated the injured.
Bleary-eyed and the ghastly scenes of death still fresh in his memory, the Association Vice-President, Gopi, on his arrival at the Bangalore City Railway Station said: "We had gone to look for a colleague who was in S-3. In the process, we encountered death at its worst. Bodies were strewn around, the victims' limbs were scattered. We took at least six bodies out of an overturned compartment."
The scene rent with human wails for help and support, the athletes saw two children, Poonam and Hemalatha, crying out for their mother. Both their parents were trapped under the wreckage, dead in the darkness. "We tried to recognise their parents by face resemblance. Soon, we were taking the children to a safer place. And there was a beggar who was injured but preferred to stay and help others get out," Mr. Gopi said. "The Railways did a wonderful work in arranging prompt medical attention and other facilities," he added.
Coach S-6 was not affected by the accident. But the passengers felt the jolt. Mitrabhai, who was coming to Bangalore to visit her daughter at Vijayanagar, fell down from her lower berth. "It was a mental shock for me and my husband, N. Vinayaka Rao. We consider ourselves very fortunate," she said.
On a visit to Bangalore, Hyderabad-based Vinayak was safe in coach S-2. But he recollected how everyone's instinct was to help the injured. "All the passengers were trying to help each other". Fifty-two-year-old Indrani Bhattacharya was fast asleep when she was rudely awakened by the loud noise. "I fell down from the middle berth. Our bogey had fallen off the track". A retired journalist, R.V. Harnoor, was with his wife in coach S-11. "It was around 12.30 a.m. The train started shaking heavily. Apparently, the driver applied brakes suddenly. We were seriously jolted," he said.
"The speed would not have been less than 60 kmph. when the mishap took place. People were scared because there was talk that another train was coming on the same track,'' he added.
Amidst the chaos, Mr. Harnoor remembered how a six-month pregnant woman inside his coach started wailing. "She was really scared that something would happen to her. She was in trauma. It was dark outside.
The ticket inspector was calling out for any doctors who could help," he added.
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