Calcutta, May 31: Dinesh Mukherjee, 35, fainted at Howrah station this evening, unable to get information about his parents and younger brother who were on the Doon Express.
“I haven’t been able to get in touch with my parents or brother since I heard the news on television. I don’t know what to do,” the resident of Howrah’s Shibpur said after he regained consciousness.
Dinesh’s father Basudeb, 69, mother Juthika, 55, and brother Subrata, 27, were in the S9 sleeper coach, one of those that got derailed. They had boarded the train from Howrah last night and were on their way to Haridwar on a pilgrimage.
“I spoke to my parents around 8.15am. I tried to get in touch with them (after the accident) but their phones were unreachable,” said Dinesh.
Relatives of many passengers thronged the enquiry counters at Howrah station. Railway officials at the derailment site in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, said the dead had not been identified till late tonight.
Eastern Railway officials said three extra coaches had been attached to the Doon Express that left Howrah this evening so that the relatives of the passengers of the previous day’s train could travel to the crash site.
But not many seemed to be aware about the arrangement. The family of Neeraj Jaiswal, a young man from Kankurgachhi in Calcutta who was on Wednesday’s train, were among the few people in the extra coaches, railway officials said.
Neeraj was in S8, one of the coaches that jumped tracks. “His (Neeraj’s) friends called and said he was stuck inside the bogie. Since then, we have heard nothing,” said his father Ramprasad.
Sanjib Roy’s daughter Pamela was in S5, which too had got derailed, but he was feeling relieved after speaking to her.
“She has suffered a head injury. I spoke to her after the accident and she told me about her close shave. Some railway officials helped her get in touch with me,” the Bhopal resident said.
Pamela, 24, had recently joined a software company in Salt Lake’s Sector V. Father and daughter had checked into a Calcutta hotel.
“My daughter was going to Dehradun on training. Pamela said she would carry on with her journey since the injury was not severe,” Sanjib said.
Railway officials said most of the passengers in the reserved coaches that jumped tracks had taken the train from Bengal. “Preliminary information suggests that most of them had boarded from Howrah, Burdwan, Asansol and other stations in Bengal,” an official said.
Shiekh Azim, 36, a resident of Bankra in Howrah, was on his way to Haridwar with five family members. His father Abdul Majid said: “I spoke to them immediately after the accident. He (Azim) is injured while the others are unhurt. I am extremely worried about my son but could not contact them again.”
Some of the passengers recounted their ordeal from Jaunpur. “I was resting after lunch when there was a loud noise. I was thrown off my berth and a lady and her daughter fell over me,” said Bhaskar Sahoo from Entally who was part of a group of 20 headed for Uttar Kashi for trekking.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced that a control room would be set up at Writers’ for information on the derailment. She said she did not usually comment on the railways’ affairs but had been forced to speak on the derailment as many of those affected were from Bengal.
“We have opened a control room at Writers’ Buildings to help the relatives of the passengers who were travelling on the train,” she said.