Umesh(31) and his family were trapped in coach B-1 of the Bangalore-Nanded express, and three of his family are feared dead. Umesh hails from Udupi. He rescued several other passengers from the burning coach early on Saturday morning. Umesh has still not been able to trace his mother, who is now believed to be missing.
Umesh works at Hotel Woodlands in Chennai and was travelling with eight other family members, including a four-year old child, to Mantralayam. It was also his first trip to the pilgrimage town, and all were travelling to fulfill a vow that his mother had taken.
He said, “We were fast asleep. Around 3.20 am, we heard people screaming. I immediately pulled the chain and warned others. Two others joined me to break open the windows in the two toilets. We managed to rescue a few passengers.”
The passengers could not move to the other bogie as the vestibule was closed. “The two doors in the bogie did not open quickly, so we forced open the toilet windows even as smoke was engulfing the bogie. In the melee, while many escaped, my mother and other relatives could not,” he said.
He said he had forced his uncle, who had booked their tickets, to travel along with them. “Now, I do not know what answer I will give his children,” he added.
While his cousin Natesh, wife Vijetha and daughter Tanushree (4) escaped with minor injuries, Umesh’s mother Sudha (60), aunt Leela (62) and maternal uncle Ramanandam (65), are listed as missing. Another cousin escaped unhurt. “I searched for my relatives in a hospital at Anantapur. I was told that they have been shifted to Victoria. I was finally told that they are at St John’s Hospital,” he added.