Use of gas cutters to rescue trapped passengers inside the mangled coaches of the tragedy-hit Indore Patna Express was minimised as these produce excessive heat and release gases causing suffocation. “We have been instructed to minimise the use of such gas cutters as these melt steel and produce hot gases causing suffocation,” Pancharatan Singh, an official of the Kanpur Small Arms Factory, said at the accident spot.
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He is leading a team of 8 to 10 welders from the factory equipped with two gas cutters to bring out trapped people from the train. Singh said the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was using cold cutters to cut open the steel frame of the bogies without increasing the temperature inside the coaches. “The bogies are being moved using JCB machines. We have seen a number of people who are alive inside the bogies. The coaches are badly mangled but some rescue workers have heard cries of the victims still trapped inside,” Singh said.
Adil Ahmed, who was in one of the coaches, said that the train was running at a high speed when the mishap occurred at around 3 AM which led to four bogies rolling over. He claimed that the rescue personnel reached the accident spot nearly an hour after the tragedy occurred as the roads in the rural area were not in a good condition.
Deepika Tripathi, another passenger, said, “We are still trying to trace five members of our family. We were a group of 45 people.”
Another man who was inside one of the coaches, said, “We somehow made out way out of the train through the toilet
window. All members of my family are safe. We haven’t seen anything like this. We were very scared, but after seeing the rescue operations, we feel reassured.” General Manager of North-Central Railway Arun Saxena said S1 and S2 coaches of the train bore the major brunt of the damage as the bogies smashed into each other.
The whereabouts of the ticket collectors and staff in the two coaches is also not known, he said, noting that a third AC coach BE also suffered damage. Two other coaches, S3 and S4 also went off track, but did not suffer serious damage, Saxena said. A passenger, who was not hurt, said that the people travelling were jolted out of their sleep by a great thud. “It was pitch dark and the noise was ear-shattering,” he said, adding it was a “near-death” experience.
More than 100 people have been killed and over 200 injured in the mishap.
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