The horrific train accident in Odisha's Balasore district on Friday evening has brought out the undying human spirit among ordinary locals who wasted no time to save the injured.
At least 261 people have been killed in the crash involving the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train.
While it is not clear what caused the crash, sources indicated a possible signalling failure.
Ranajit Giri, Biprada Bag, Asha Behera and Ashok Bera, all residents of Bahanaga Bazaar station area in Balasore district where the crash took place, were among the first to rescue the injured.
“I was at a nearby tea stall with my friends around 7pm. Suddenly, I heard a loud sound followed by cries of people. We rushed to the spot and were taken aback at what we saw. Without wasting time, we started rescuing the injured. We also informed police and railway officials," Giri told a Bengali news channel.
“We rescued at least 50 injured passengers and used our vehicles to ferry passengers to the local hospital. Some survivors were looking for their near and dear ones, but since it was too dark, we couldn't help them," Bag told another channel.
Sixty-year-old Ashok Bera went to the hospital to donate blood.
“I came here to donate blood but was not allowed because of my age. I then asked my sons and relatives to reach the hospital and donate blood,” he said.
Bera was seen talking to survivors and helping them connect with their families over the phone.
“Most survivors lost their mobiles and couldn't speak to their families to inform them about their condition. I helped them as much as I could,” he told a Hindi news channel.
Behera was seen taking care of two children whose parents were yet to be traced.
“I rescued this boy from the spot and brought him to the hospital. Here, I met a girl who could not locate her parents. We are trying to get in touch with their relatives,” she told a news channel.
Officials in Bhubaneswar said 200 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units were working at the accident site, besides 1,200 personnel. The bodies were being taken to the hospitals in all kinds of vehicles, including tractors.
The train crash, the fourth deadliest in India according to available records, happened near the Bahanaga Baazar station in Balasore district, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar, around 7 pm on Friday, prompting the Railway Ministry to order a probe.