Teacher couple turns school into morgue in Bhubaneswar

While initially the school staff maintained record of the bodies, they were replaced by some officials of the administration the next morning.

Published: 07th June 2023 09:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2023 09:20 AM   |  A+A-

Teacher couple

Bahanaga High School headmistress Pramila Swain with her husband Manibhadra I Express

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: It was around 7.20 pm on June 2 when the in-charge headmistress of Bahanaga High School Pramila Swain was getting ready to attend a wedding reception. Her husband Manibhadra Swain had received a few photographs and video clippings on his WhatsApp.

As the couple was about to leave for the party, they thought some of their colleagues might have already arrived at the venue and had sent spot pics. They opened the app and what they saw was beyond their imagination. A cluster resource centre coordinator (CRCC) Muktikanta Sial had shared some pictures of the train crash at Bahanaga Bazar station and wanted to know if they had any information about it.  Immediately, sensing the enormity of the crash, Pramila first decided to open the school so that it can be used as a shelter for the accident victims. 

She informed Bahanaga CRCC Prashant Das about the mishap and without wasting any time, the couple dropped the plan of attending the reception and proceeded to the school. By 8 pm, they were at the school.  “We needed to ready the building that might double up as a relief camp. Since we have previous experience in managing disasters when schools are turned into shelters, my first priority was to ensure it is ready to receive the accident victims,” she said.

In the next few hours, the school had already been converted into a makeshift morgue and the last resting point of the crash victims.

 “Initially the injured passengers were brought to the school where we provided them first aid before they were shifted to hospitals. The bodies started pouring in from 12 midnight and as many as 174 were stored in the building by 7 am in the morning. There were a total of 211 bodies in four rooms, including a prayer hall of the school,” said Manibhadra.

While initially, the school staff maintained records of the bodies, they were replaced by some officials of the administration the next morning. The couple then focused on supporting the medical teams in providing treatment to the injured, arranging food for those passengers who had luckily escaped, and facilitating the identification of bodies.

 Four days have passed since the deadliest train crash, but for the teacher couple, who spent two days with the bodies, most of which were mutilated and defaced, the tragedy would continue to haunt them for years to come.

“We will have to live with the nightmare,” they said.


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