Odisha train clash: A school in Bahanaga where dead found a resting point

170 bodies were kept on the school premises as 3 classrooms proved insufficient, admin used the open hall to keep the dead

Published: 04th June 2023 10:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2023 10:54 AM   |  A+A-

Family members of the deceased passengers outside the school premises | Express

By Express News Service

BAHANAGA: A few hundred metres from Bahanaga Bazar Station, a school room resonated with ringtones of mobile phones all through Friday night. A 65-year-old educational institution, the Bahanaga Bazar High School, doubled up as the transit point for the dead. Many of the passengers who perished in one of India’s worst railway disasters were carrying mobile phones in their pockets when disaster struck.

As the tragic train crash news broke, anxious family members began calling the passengers many of who had died in the mishap. But their cell phones kept ringing, till the battery died. It was a bizarre coincidence of sorts. Many injured passengers, trapped in the mangled coaches of the ill-fated Coromandel Express, could be pulled out to safety after rescue workers tracked them as their phones which kept ringing.

However, here in the darkroom of the school, their dear ones were no longer alive to answer. As the toll mounted and rescuers kept recovering the bodies of hundreds of passengers till Saturday morning, the government and railway authorities had no option but to use the high old school as a place for identification of the deceased and their handover to their kin.

At least 170 bodies were kept on the school premises. As three classrooms proved insufficient, the administration used the open hall of the school to keep the dead arranged for their identification.
As the morning broke and panicked family members arrived and frantically looked for their kin, the Bahanaga high school attracted hundreds of wailing families searching for the bodies of their near and dear ones. Till afternoon, at least 35 families received the dead bodies of their family members and relatives from the school but the rest remained unidentified.

In the absence of any facility to preserve the deceased at the site, the government decided to shift the bodies to another location – North Odisha Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI), near Balasore town.

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“The dead bodies will be stored at NOCCI premises for another 36 hours. If not identified and claimed, the administration will dispose of them after collection of samples,” said Saroj Kumar Das, sub-inspector of police of Simulia who was on duty at the school.


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