Tribals turned first responders, saved 200

Before the teams of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, fire services and National Disaster Response Force reached the site, the tribals there rescued over 200 passengers.

Published: 05th June 2023 09:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th June 2023 10:03 AM   |  A+A-

Rescue operations

Rescue operations at the Balasore train crash site. (Photo | AFP)

Express News Service

BAHANAGA: Phulamani Hembrum was cooking in her courtyard when she heard a big bang on Friday evening. She stepped out to find a cloud of smoke engulfing the railway tracks, about 200 metres from her house. And then the area plunged into darkness. Before she could realise what happened, she heard screams. Phulamani and her husband Raghu ran towards the site and what they saw left them numbed.

“For the first time in my life, I saw so many dead people. The bodies were soaked in blood. There were dismembered body parts strewn across. I gathered courage and ran towards a derailed coach where a little girl was hanging from the window. She had injuries all over her body. Her mother managed to get out. I took them to my house, gave them water,” said the 30-year-old tribal woman who rescued six children.

The Hembrum couple did not stop there. They went on to rescue another 30 passengers and even arranged transport for hospitals. Before rescue teams could arrive, around 58 tribals of two hamlets  Krushnapur and Kamaripur were among the first responders who utilised their resources to save the lives of passengers of the ill-fated Coromandel Express that was involved in one of the country’s deadliest rail disasters at Bahanaga Bazar Station.

They rescued over 200 passengers and retrieved dead bodies from damaged coaches. Soon teams of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, fire services and National Disaster Response Force arrived at the site.
Maheswar Kisku, another tribal, recalls removing mutilated bodies.

“I climbed on the overturned coaches and pulled out dead bodies which were missing hands and legs. The scene was so horrific, it replays in front of my eyes even after two days of the incident,” he said. The tribal families were lucky the derailed coaches did not hit their houses which are barely 200 metres from the site. “Anything was possible but we were lucky,” said his wife Manjulata.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp