"We woke up when co-passengers started yelling about the fire mishap. The coach was full of thick smoke," recalls Manjunath Patil, a resident of Banashankari 2nd stage who travelled by the ill-fated B1 compartment of the Bangalore-Nanded Express which was gutted in a fire killing 26 passengers.
"We felt suffocated even as the train kept on moving. Someone pulled the chain to stop the train. We managed to open the door and exit but my father jumped out of the coach and sustained minor injuries,'' Manjunath said.
Manjunath, who accompanied his father MB Patil on a a planned trip to Ajanta Ellora, said that after they got out of the train, they boarded APSRTC bus to reach Penukonda. "We boarded Udyan Express at Penukonda to Bangalore. The railway authorities did not collect money from us for the journey despite our insistence,'' he said.
"I thank the Almighty for saving her father and brother," a relieved Shalini Patil, Manjunath's sister, recalled the trauma she undergone on Saturday morning after watching the scroll on a TV channel about the train mishap.
"I tried to contact my brother. There was no response. I lost all hope. As a last resort, I tried to contact my father, but my brother attended the call. He told me that he could not attend the call when I tried to contact him since he kept his mobile phone in the suitcase that was burnt in the fire mishap. Now, I am very happy to know that my father and brother are safe,'' said Shalini.
Guru Prasad S, who works at Digicall Tele Services, told dna that he came to know about the incident at 9 am when he saw the news scroll on a TV channel.
"My father Sudhakar Rao was traveling on that train to Raichur to attend a meeting on a property dispute. He escaped with minor injuries and continued journey to Raichur on the same train. Now, I am leaving for Raichur to meet my father,'' said Guru Prasad.
Dr Imran from BTM Layout, whose sister-in-law, Dr Asra (31), and her son Mohammed (2-1/2 years) and another relative Ibrahim Rahi (26) were killed, was numb with shock as he waited at the mortuary of Victoria Hospital. He recalled that his ill-fated relatives were all smiles as they left for Raichur on Friday night.
With all senior railway officials having left for Kothacheruvu, relatives and friends of passengers of the ill-fated train found it difficult to get information at the City Railway Station.
SWR has set up helplines to provide updates about the mishap and the survivors:
Bangalore City: 080-22354108, 080-22259271, 080-22156554, 080-22156553
Satya Sai Prashanti Nilayam: 08555280125
Accident spot: 9731666863, Satelite Phone: 00870763945549
Guntakal: 08552220305, 9701374965
Union railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased. The grievously injured will get Rs 1 lakh and ones with minor injury will get Rs 50,000.
Kharge ordered an inquiry into the mishap. Commissioner of railway safety and he rushed to
the accident spot.
Chairman of railway board, director general (health services) of railway board too will reach the spot to take stock of the situation.