Family members and friends of the 26 victims of a fire that occurred on the Bangalore Nanded Express early on Saturday morning were subjected to a long wait for identification of the bodies of their kin as authorities in Ananthapur and Bangalore tried to ensure that the charred and disfigured bodies were handed to relatives by following proper procedures including DNA identification.
In the bargain,the families of nine victims who travelled to Ananthapur on Saturday morning were forced to return to Bangalore and wait till late on Saturday evening to claim the bodies of their kin.
Though the 26 bodies arrived at the mortuary of Victoria Hospital by 3:30 pm,the grieving relatives and friends of the victims had to wait anxiously till 7 pm for the investigating officer from Ananthapur in Andhra Pradesh,who registered the case of the fire on the train,to arrive and take control of the identification process and the case under his jurisdiction.
We have identified my mother and my aunt on basis of their ornaments in Ananthapur but we were asked to claim the bodies in Bangalore since all the dead were sent here to enable the DNA identification procedure, Chandrashekhar Prabhakar,the foster son of one of the victims Lalitha Prabhakar said.
At the Victoria Hospital,authorities allowed the families of victims who had been identified to claim the bodies with an undertaking stating the details of their train booking,producing an original identity document of the victim and a guarantee that the bodies will be buried and not cremated in order to handle any identity disputes that might arise later.
Earlier in the day,confusion reigned at the Ananthapur district hospital where a help desk for helping the families of victims was flooded with requests on the whereabouts of passengers in the three-tier airconditioned compartment.
The railway police in Andhra Pradesh initially thought they could shift the bodies of victims to the Ananthapur hospital for post-mortem examination. Later they decided to shift all the dead bodies to the Victoria hospital since experts to conduct DNA tests to identify the dead bodies were available in Bangalore.
The family of a music critic from Mysore K S Krishnamurthy,68,were initially told by the help desk that he figured in the injured list but were later told that he was dead. The family of the music critic – who was on his way to an event in Raichur when the fire occurred – were left wondering how the body could have been identified when no family member was present at the scene.
The son of the music critic were then asked to return to Bangalore to Victoria Hospital to help in DNA identification of the body. The staff said nine bodies were identified in Ananthapur itself by Andhra Pradesh Railway police. They managed to identify nine of the dead. We dont know on what basis it was done, a help desk staff member said.
A railway official said a huge crowd of relatives and friends who gathered at the accident spot managed to identify some of the bodies. We dont want to take any chances in the matter. So we have decided to collect DNA samples from the blood relatives of all the victims before handing over the bodies to the right families, the official said.