As coach slipped into waters, he called father: We won’t meet again

11 of family among 29 dead after two trains derail at night in Madhya Pradesh.

Written by Milind Ghatwai , Pranav Kulkarni | Harda (madhya Pradesh) | Updated: August 7, 2015 7:19 am
Kamayani Express, MP train Accident, Train Accident MP, train accident, Madhya Pradesh train accident, MP train derailed, Janata Express, Kamayani Express, Passenger trains Derailed, Varanasi-Mumbai Train, Varanasi-Mumbai Train Accident, Varanasi-Mumbai Train Derailed, Indian Railways, Train Accident Today A grieving passenger after the twin derailment in Harda, Madhya Pradesh, Wednesday. (Source: PTI)

Around 1 am Wednesday, Kirat Singh’s phone rang. His son, 22-year-old Dharmendra, was on the line, weeping, frantic: “Papa, hum log gaye. Ab hum nahin milne wale (Papa, we are gone. We won’t meet again)”. The general coach of the Mumbai-bound Janata Express was slipping into the waters of the swollen Machak and Dharmendra had perched himself on an upper berth.

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His ordeal had just begun because over the next three hours, the young man watched 11 of his family — 14 had set out for the pilgrim town of Shirdi — drown as water poured into the coach. Since it was dark, he couldn’t see properly and could only hear their cries for help. One by one, the voices died.

Survivors recount: ‘It was like Titanic… I thought it was over’

The 11 of Kirat Singh’s family were among 29 who died when two trains — the Patna-Mumbai Janata Express and the Mumbai-Varanasi Kamayani Express — travelling in opposite directions, derailed within minutes of each other shortly before midnight near Harda in Madhya Pradesh.

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Officials said heavy rainfall in the area had washed away the base of the tracks on a culvert, causing derailment of at least 18 coaches when most passengers were asleep. Scores were injured and officials said the toll could rise because some bodies could have been washed away.

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As he waited outside the Harda district hospital where bodies were sent for autopsy, Dharmendra said the Janata Express screeched to halt minutes after crossing Bhirangi. Before they could realise, the coach, the first after the engine, tilted. “For a few minutes, we couldn’t make out anything. The lights went out and then the water came gushing in. Everyone started screaming and tried to get out. It was pitch dark, and there was water everywhere.”

ALSO READ: Families Wait: A distress call in the dead of night… soon the phone dies

He and 13 others of the family, from Gotegaon in Madhya Pradesh, had boarded the train at 7 pm Wednesday — the Janata Express left Shridham station two hours behind schedule. Kirat Singh, the family head, was inconsolable: “The train departed at 7 pm. I did not go because my wife and my mother were with them… They were headed to Shirdi… 14 left, only three returned… At 1 am, when Dharmendra called, he gave the phone to my wife. I spoke to her one last time.”

Others were fortunate. Harilal, a passenger who had boarded the Kamayani Express at Jalgaon, said: “I was in a general coach but my wife, who was a different coach, called me for dinner. My coach derailed. The one in which we were together derailed after we got out. On one side was the engine of the other train, on the other side there was water. It was pitch dark.’’


Residents of the area where the trains derailed were the first to come to the rescue. The first relief train could reach the spot about two hours after the incident. Rescue teams sent by the administration included divers and army personnel from Bhopal and Mhow.

Chief Secretary Anthony de Sa said the deaths were due to drowning. Fourteen bodies were found in one coach and several people, who tried to jump to safety, drowned in the waters.

The mishap site could be accessed only by rail because rivers were in spate and rescuers couldn’t travel by road. Rescue operations were hampered when it rained again Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who visited the spot, announced Rs two lakh compensation for the kin of each dead and Rs 50,000 for the critically inured. The compensation will be in addition to the one provided by the Railways.

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  1. bharath
    Aug 6, 2015 at 10:26 am
    Suresh Prabhu is among the few capable ministers in this government, and by all accounts, he seems to be ernest at his job. Yet, one cannot get a sense that priorities are misplaced. Cleanliness, hygiene (and bullet trains) are important of course. But none of them are as important as safety and care for life. Beyond all, the railway should ure its pengers that they will get them from Point A to Point B, safe and sound.
    1. B
      Bhushan T
      Aug 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm
      What can you expect from the present regime ? The Railways has 15 lacs employees and 90% of the income is spend on their ries !!! Out of 15 lac employees only 5% (linesmen) work for 2/3 hours a day and others enjoy the government job. How can you expect safety from such system ? The railways should be privatized at the earliest. We already have seen those corruption cases from the top br just for the lucrative postings.
      1. K
        Aug 6, 2015 at 7:14 am
        It is cheaper to pay off the injured and dead than improve on rail safety, This is the only game that has been taking place under various governments. In today;s satellite technology there is no reason any train should derail, this shows lack of respect or concern for paying pengers by the Indian Railways. Air India does not care for pengers in their flights and the Indian railways does not care for its rail pengers followed by local bus companies. Fate took them away is the continuous story to be heard by the media and politicians.
        1. M
          Manu USA
          Aug 6, 2015 at 11:47 am
          I don't know, why accidents happen. I feel the pain, as I lost my only 20 yrs son to an accident. I m with the guy who lost his family. I was believed in God, not any more. We need to build the right n fix it, run safely. They were coming from Shirdi !!!
          1. P
            Peoples Person
            Aug 6, 2015 at 9:28 am
            Railways cannot wash of its hands by calling it a freakest of freak accidents. The section's Permanent Way staff should have been able ess the imminent danger of tracks getting undercut by flood water. Had the trains ping through this section been canceled seeing the heavy rainfall, this tragedy would have been avoided.
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