A woman who was lying on the side upper berth of coach B1 (AC 3-tier) on the Coromandel Express saw passengers being jolted out of their seats and children thrown here and there in the compartment after a sudden, tremendous jerk.
Saheli Deb, who was travelling to Chennai with her husband and seven-year-old son, thought it was the end.
The family, originally from Kolkata , have been living in Chennai since June last year. They had come to the city on a vacation and were travelling back to Chennai.
On Sunday afternoon, the 37-year-old recounted to The Telegraph what the family went through on the Coromandel Express on Friday evening and how she wished to forget those horror-filled 30 seconds.
I was lying on the side upper berth and my husband and son were sitting on the berth below.
Suddenly the train started jerking and for a moment I thought the driver had applied the emergency brake.
But the jerking did not stop and from my berth I saw people being thrown off their seats, one on another.
It was vacation time and there were many children in the coach. The young ones were being tossed here and there.
People were shouting and screaming. It was agonizing. Our compartment had tilted and suddenly there was a huge jerk and I thought it was the end.
Had our coach tilted a little more, I would have been fallen. Everything happened within 30 seconds. All the while my husband was holding on to the railing of our berth with one hand and our son close to his chest with the other.
Picture of the accident site clicked by Saheli Deb on her mobile phone
Fortunately they were not flung off their seat.
Once it all stopped, it took us another five to 10 seconds to realise that we were still alive.
We were all traumatised. Children were crying. I saw a young girl shivering. There were some who were calling out to their family members.
Then people started shouting that we had to get off the train as fast as we could.
Till the doors were opened, for a minute or two, there was a faint smoke in the compartment.
My son was on the brink of tears and I explained to him that we were safe and we should hurry up and get off the train.
The lights in our compartment were still on and the door was not blocked. We could jump on to the railway line with our luggage. Passengers were getting down from both sides.
We stood on the ground for about five minutes to understand which direction we should head to.
My phone had no network and I had no idea where we were. We heard people shouting, looking for their family members. There were big groups going on vacation and the members were calling out for each other. It was all so traumatic.
I decided that we should leave the place immediately and started walking along the railway tracks in the dark.
There was some faint light from some of the compartments and the phones of some of the travellers.
We could walk because we had no physical injury. Those who were injured could not even do that.
We walked to the highway — around 600m from the accident spot — and waited there with hundreds of other people. We realised we would not be able to board a bus.
A co-passenger booked a car through an acquaintance in Balasore. The car took us to Balasore and the next morning (Saturday) we rented another car to travel back to Calcutta.