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Locals reached out to train disaster victims

Last updated on: July 20, 2010 19:00 IST

They have been working silently since the accident

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They have been working tirelessly but silently since the Uttarbanga Express crashed into the Vananchal Express at the Sainthia station in Birbhum district, ferrying the injured, donating blood and helping out in the morgue.

Monkhush Hossain Khan, a resident of Joramath Churmura area at Suri in Birbhum district collected a group of young men and drove them in his truck to the Sainthia station 40 km away after hearing about the accident.

Khan and his band of Samaritans after reaching Sainthia ferried the injured to the Suri Sadar Hospital and the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital in the neighbouring district.

"We went to work at 4 am yesterday and have been continuing since. We only took a two-hour break to bathe and change our clothes which were soiled with blood and dirt," Khan told PTI here.

He said that his group of young volunteers took over 20 injured passengers of the Vananchal Express to the Suri Hospital after rescuing them from the wrecked bogies.

"Some of them were referred by doctors at the hospital here to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital and we wasted no time in driving them there. I hope they survive," he said.

The train mishap has claimed 66 people so far and injured 83 others.

Now that the injured were in hospital and rescue operations over, Khan and the young Samaritans are helping out at the morgue.

Image: Volunteers conduct rescue operations on the wreckage of train carriages at the accident site at Sainthia in West Bengal on Monday
Photographs: Reuters
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'Many came to donate blood immediately'

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Besides Khan there are other volunteers too from this district town who turned out to help out when disaster struck.

"When word went around that there was a shortage of blood at the hospital because of the large number of injured, a few hundred of us immediately turned up to donate blood," a citizen said, declining to be named.

The morgue employees too have been working ceaselessly sine the train collision and Ratan Dom, who head's the department, says he has handled over 40 bodies so far.

Several local clubs also arranged food and water for distraught family members of the dead and injured.

Image: A victim of the train accident rests inside a hospital at Suri
Photographs: Jayanta Dey/Reuters
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Moving scenes at hospitals

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The scenes at hospitals close to the accident site will move anybody.

A physically and mentally challenged teenager cries inconsolably outside the morgue in Suri Sadar Hospital in Birbhum district, where the body of his mother along with that of other victims of the train collision in Sainthia station have been kept.

The boy, Raju Mondal, has refused to talk or eat anything since his mother, Kamli Devi, died.

Raju, a resident of Bhagalpur in Bihar, was being taken by his mother to a mental hospital in Ranchi on the Vananchal Express, his father Jagdambi Mondal, who rushed to the hospital from Bhagalpur, said.

Though mentally challenged, Raju, who suffered a minor cut on his toe, pulled his seriously injured mother out of the damaged compartment and brought her to Suri, 45 km from the accident site, in an ambulance with the help of paramedics, Jagdambi, a daily labourer, said.

"Kamli Devi died of her injuries last night and since then Raju has gone into a trance and has been crying. He has stopped eating. I cannot communicate with him," Jagdambi said.

Image: A crane lifts a damaged carriage of a passenger train at the site of accident at Sainthia on Monday
Photographs: Jayanta Dey/Reuters
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'My brother was only 23, did he have to die?'

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In another corner Prasenjit from Manikchak in Malda district cries over the loss of his brother.

Prasanta Saha, who was travelling by the Vananchal express to Dhanbad in search of work, was seriously injured and died of his injuries last night at the hospital, his younger brother, Prasenjit, said.

"My brother was only 23. Did he have to die?" he asks.

Sanjiv Kumar, a 20-year-old, who was travelling from Khagaria in Bihar to Andal in West Bengal's Burdwan district was also killed. His body and face were badly disfigured in the accident.

His uncle, Ganesh Pandit, said that the body did resemble that of his nephew, but since the face was disfigured, he was waiting for the parents to come and positively identify him.

Coffins were lined up in a row before the morgue for family members to take away the bodies of their near and dear ones after identification.

Image: Onlookers stand on top of a goods train at the accident site
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
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