“It was like the Titanic. The train was precariously perched on a slope and the base of the track was caving in. I thought it was all over,” Abhinav Pathak said, describing the events of Tuesday night.
The 25-year-old had boarded the S10 coach of the Kamayani Express at Jalgaon, the headquarters of the irrigation systems company he works for. He was on his way to Ayodhya, his hometown in Uttar Pradesh, after two months.
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Injured and fatigued after the accident, Pathak appeared to be in a daze at the Harda railway station as he waited to be taken to Ayodhya in another train. He said the passengers held each other’s hands as they somehow managed to climb out of the train.
Since his relatives could not contact him after the accident and had apparently heard rumours of his death, they thought Pathank did not survive. “Has Abhinav Pathak’s body arrived,” one of his relatives was heard asking loudly when a rescue train came back from the mishap site.
Bhimrao Bhonsle, 55, and his 50-year-old wife Mangala were on their way to their home in Bhopal on the Kamayani Express after taking part in the Kumbh Mela in Nashik. The couple was travelling in the S8 coach with their nephew Sanjayrao, who was the first to climb out of the tilted coach in the dead of night. “I kept trying to climb out the window but kept falling till I reached the emergency window. From there, I got on to the engine of the Janata Express. It took me around 90 minutes before I could feel safe,’’ said Sanjayrao, who like his aunt and uncle irons clothes for living.
It was only when people from nearby villages arrived on the spot around 3 am that he could find his relatives. Bhimrao and Mangala’s son Rakesh had to drive his two-wheeler all the way from Bhopal, about 180 km away, in search of his parents. Rakesh found them injured when he arrived at around 9:45 am.
Jyoti Sen and her husband Harilal were travelling in separate compartments and they decided to have dinner together. The couple said they heard a loud sound and could see nothing when they woke up. They thought they would be safer in another coach as the one they were in appeared to be sinking. We were certain we would not make it out alive, the couple said.
“We had barely stepped out of the coach and taken few steps that we saw the entire coach sink,’’ recalls Hiralal.