They were the first ones to reach the spot and start rescuing those trapped in the derailed coaches of the Indore-Patna Express for nearly an hour before the police reached and began their operation.The residents of Pukhrayan and surrounding villages remained involved in the operation till dusk. School buses were brought by them to carry those injured to hospitals in Mati and Pukhrayan. Schoolchildren and young men continued to distribute water, tea, biscuits and bananas to the distressed passengers and rescuers whole day.
“There was a loud noise. I was awakened by it. We went to our roof and then we realised that the train had derailed. About a dozen of us reached there within five minutes by 3.10 am. Everybody was screaming. We called the police and the ambulance. We started rescuing those stuck. At least 30 bodies were brought out by us before police reached there. Most of the passengers were asking what this place was. We told them to go to main road to catch buses if they wanted to leave,” said Ashok Sachan whose house is closest to the accident site.
“One woman’s leg was stuck in the wheel. We couldn’t take it out. Then Vipin, who runs a motorcycle agency here, rushed to his workshop and brought the jack and cutter. But we still could not lift the wheel. She was later rescued by police. But the screams from those trapped continued till noon,” he said.
Vipin Trivedi, another resident, said many passengers were in trauma, asking for water, as soon as they started to get out of the coaches. “There were no shops open. We collected milk from the whole neighbourhood to prepare tea and then brought water and tea here,” he said.
The villagers rushed the injured to ambulances and accompanied them to hospital. A villager who had accompanied two
children after rescuing them, remained at the hospital until their relatives came in the evening. “They returned again and again to check on the injured. All my seven doctors and the entire paramedic staff have remained here since 4 am when the first patient was brought. But I would still say that the people of Pukhrayan helped the most,” said Dr Sanjiv Kumar, superintendent of Pukhrayan community health centre.
By evening, a total of 250 bags of the passengers had been collected near the accident spot. Some of them were totally damaged and empty. Clothes were falling out of some. A bunch of wedding cards spilled from another one. Rasoolabad Tehsildar Ram Dayal Verma, who is guarding the unclaimed baggage, said: “I have been handed over some jewellery which was found by rescuers. I also have about Rs 2.50 lakh in cash.”