PTI reporter on Duronto: Slumber broken by jolt, followed by chaos

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PTI reporter Justin Rao was on board the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto express when it derailed.The following is his account of the harrowing experience that passengers faced.

A huge shudder and a sharp jerk accompanied by a screeching sound woke me up from my early morning slumber in the air-conditoned coach.

The next thing I knew I was on the floor of the compartment. Luggage was strewn around and some of my co- passengers were shouting.

Dazed, we gingerly found our feet and looked out the window of our A2 two-tier coach. What we saw confirmed our worst fears — the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express No. 12290 had jumped off the tracks.

Most of the passengers on the prestigious superfast, full air conditioned train must have been asleep when the train derailed betweem Vasind and Asangaon stations, a little after 6.30 a.m. At that point we were barely 65 kilometers and 90 minutes from our destination, the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.

The 18-coach train, with its distinctive green and yellow livery, had left Nagpur at 8.40 p.m. on Monday. The journey with only two stops in Bhusaval and Igatpuri had been uneventful. Passengers had their dinner, joked, chatted and played cards as attendants brought white bedsheets and blankets for the night.

A spate of train derailments, one of which left 23 people dead on August 19, was far from our minds as we made our beds and went to sleep for the overnight journey. Most of us woke up only when we felt the massive shaking and jolt that lasted about 5-10 seconds.

We were lucky that the derailment did not cause any fatalities or major injuries. Passengers managed to come out of the compartment and saw that six bogies had derailed. Those trapped in washroom took some more time to come out. The impact on the first four coaches from the engine was severe. It was raining heavily and there was water everywhere outside.

The cause of the accident is not clear. Central Railways’ spokesman Sunil Udasi said a landslide triggered by heavy rains caused the derailment, but a disaster was averted by the alert driver who applied emergency brakes in time. Another official, however, said a portion of the tracks was washed away by the rains.

The accident occurred near a water body, and some of us checked if any of the bogies had gone in the water but that was not the case.

Passengers were getting drenched in heavy rains. There there was chaos at the accident spot, he said.

After a while officials arrived, and asked the passengers to walk down to the Vasind railway station, about a kilometre from the accident spot. A few hours later a rescue train reached the site to ferry the remaining passengers to Mumbai.

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