Coaches can be seen strewn on both sides of the track, a few of these several feet away, in Raghunathpur, a non-descript town in Buxar district of Bihar where the North East Express derailed.
Four AC coaches, all of which have jumped the rails but remained coupled, form a scary serpentine pattern with shattered window panes serving as a telltale sign.
The guard of the Assam-bound train, Vijay Kumar, recalls having fallen unconscious from the impact of the derailment.
“I was busy with my paperwork when I realized that the driver suddenly applied brakes. This was followed by a few jerks, and I fainted. Later, I found myself in the adjoining fields, where villagers were sprinkling drops of water on my face,” said Kumar, who has sustained minor injuries.
With the rescue of passengers complete, the focus is now on restoration.
The entire area has been cordoned off as villagers watch gigantic cranes and machinery used for cutting through metal at work. They feel that, given the scale of devastation, it may be several days before the tracks are again fit for traffic.
Railways, though, insist that it will not take that long.
Mahendra Yadav, a 64-year-old resident of Madhepura district who was traveling in an AC 3-tier coach, recalled amid sobs, “It was an experience I may never forget. Suddenly, all of us started getting tossed off our berths by a force that none of us could fathom.” The elderly person is full of gratitude for local residents who had rushed to the spot and pulled out most of the passengers from the toppled coaches by the time the railway and other administrative officials arrived with assistance.
In an adjoining coach, Mohd Nasir and Abu Zayed, both residents of Kishanganj district, were fast asleep, perhaps enjoying pleasant dreams of a vacation at home, away from the hustle and bustle of Delhi.
As fate would have it, only one of them survived to witness the horror, which may remain a memory etched in his consciousness for some time to come.
“We had boarded the train on Wednesday morning. It was a tiring journey, and after having an early dinner, we went to sleep. The train would have reached Kishanganj early the next morning. Suddenly, I felt a jolt and got thrown off my berth. It took a while before I could understand what had happened,” said Nasir, with shock writ large on his gaunt, bespectacled face.
While Nasir thanked his stars for escaping with minor bruises in the accident, which saw virtually the entire train being thrown off the rails, his eyes turned moist as he recalled rescue personnel taking away the body of Abu Zayed, who is in his 20s, informing him that his friend was dead.
Ishalaur Rehman, a resident of Delhi, recalled how 10-15 people fell on him after a sudden jolt.
“I am lucky to have survived the accident with a minor injury to my hand. But what I saw was unforgettable. I boarded the train at Prayagraj for New Jalpaiguri. I was sitting on my seat, but suddenly, there was a deafening sound, and we were thrown from our seats. I could only hear screams all around,” he said.
“Locals took us to the nearby health center. Now, I am fine,” he added.
Twenty-three coaches of the train, on the way to Kamakhya in Assam from Delhi’s Anand Vihar station, derailed near Raghunathpur on Wednesday night.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)