| Bodies of passengers lie on top of the train that derailed in Nalgonda. (PTI)
Gollapalli, Oct. 29: Tragedy clouded the run-up to Id and Diwali in rain-battered Andhra Pradesh today as floodwaters breached a railway bridge, sending up to 150 train passengers hurtling to their death.
Seven bogies and the engine of the Secunderabad-bound Delta Express plunged into an overflowing stream at Gollapalli, 30 km southeast of Hyderabad, with over 500 passengers around 4.25 am.
Till this evening, the army had fished out 108 bodies 'mostly from coaches S-3 and S-1 ' with another 20 to 30 feared to have been swept away downstream. About 400 passengers were rescued from coaches that were only partly submerged, ending hours of terrible anxiety for them and their families.
Till late tonight, the wait hadn’t ended for 55-year-old Sambi Reddy’s wife Sobha and daughter Prabha, who kept vigil at the scene, checking every body that was being retrieved. “I hope god will give me a chance to see his face,” sobbed the 46-year-old Sobha.
Flash floods caused by a breach in an irrigation tank in Nalgonda district are believed to have swept the bridge away in a matter of minutes.
“Just 20 minutes before the accident, the Narsapur Express had passed over the same track,” state home minister K. Jana Reddy said.
The rescue operations were hobbled in the morning, with policemen too scared to climb on top of the upturned bogies lest they further endanger the lives of those inside.
“We just prayed for the survival of all, because we hadn’t brought any ropes or cutters,” local reserve inspector Reza Hussain confessed.
Things began moving only around noon after a special train arrived with gas cutters, ropes and other equipment as well as more policemen, relatives of the passengers, food and medicine.
The railways diverted Hyderabad-bound trains via Kazipet and Vijayawada.