Four days after the Odisha train crash, one of the deadliest accidents India has seen in recent history, more than 100 bodies remain unidentified, while the families of the other victims struggle to come to terms with the sudden tragedy. At the same time, those who survived the accident now live to narrate the trauma of what they went through at that very moment.
Such is the story of a 27-year-old man from Assam, who is still in shock and hasn’t been able to eat since June 2 when the Coromandel Express he was travelling in collided with two other trains in Odisha’s Balasore district and the severed head of a fellow passenger came rolling down like a football from the emergency window onto his chest.
Rupak Das had missed his train to Pondicherry and as a result, had booked a ticket in Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express.
“I suddenly heard a loud thud. I knew the train had derailed. I looked outside from a window and saw the engine sitting above a goods train. Even without the engine, our train moved for some time before coming to a halt," Das told PTI.
Das said he broke the emergency glass to get out of the coach. Two more people followed and fell over him. "Within seconds, the Bengaluru-Howrah Express crashed into our train and our coach was almost crushed by it. At that moment, I saw a person's severed head come rolling down like a football,” Das said. Since then, he said, he has not been able to eat properly.
Hailing from Uttar Maral village in Sonitpur district of Assam, Das works in an adhesive factory in Pondicherry and had come home to drop off his pregnant wife.
He was shifted to Guwahati from Balasore on Monday night by the Assam government. He is currently being treated at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH). "We have conducted an MRI scan of his right knee after he complained. He is being counselled to overcome his mental shock," GMCH superintendent Dr Abhijit Sarma told PTI, adding that his condition was stable.
Das alleged that he did not receive any treatment at the local hospital in Balasore where he was kept initially. "When West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the hospital a day after the accident, I requested her to tell doctors for better treatment," he said.
"Only after Banerjee asked doctors to attend to me, my treatment started. There was no communication from the Assam government until I made a video and uploaded it on Facebook," he added.
Seeing his video, an Assamese woman from Golaghat settled in Balasore came to meet him in the hospital. She went to the accident site, searched for his luggage and brought it back to Das.
The three trains involved in the accident were the Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Express and a stationary goods train. A total of 288 people lost their lives and over 1,200 were injured. As of Tuesday, only 177 dead have been identified.