Of the total nine compartments, S8 and S9 were crushed beyond recognition. Around one hour after the train left Rayagada railway station, it was derailed in the most ghastly fashion. The victims—eight of them were from Vizianagaram. As per sources, a majority of the victims, including the injured, entered the train at Rayagada.
The railway authorities and the police immediately came on the scene and admitted the injured passengers, those extricated from the mangled remains of S8 and S9 bogies, to various hospitals.
While this was so, news of another derailment of Vasco Da Gama-Tirupati Express near Tirupati station came in that shook the railway authorities. Luckily, there were no casualties. Though traffic was quickly resumed in Tirupati, the cause is not known.
Geetanjali Bhanja, who was going back to Bhubaneshwar with her children, was sitting in the ill-fated S9 coach. “Sometime after leaving Rayagada, I felt like the train was tossed in the air and everything went black. I started feeling around for my children. A fan, maybe, had hit my head and I was bleeding profusely. But pawing my two daughters gave me some comfort. Though the third one was stuck between two berths, she was alive. We were plain lucky,” she said
Another victim, Hari Govind Maharana, of Brahmapur in Odisha said he was speaking with his fellow passengers, “When I saw the compartments swerve off the track, I was frozen as I saw the train losing its balance. Suddenly, I felt my leg stuck in the middle of berths and I saw the lifeless body of the woman passenger sitting next to me”.
The death toll and those injured could, however, increase in the coming days once the rescuers cut through the coaches to reach the bodies/survivors.
The officials were amazed to learn that two goods trains and a patrol team had crossed the spot a short while before a few minutes before the horrific derailment of Hirakhand Express.
An ex- gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased was announced by AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu announced, who also ordered a CID probe into the incident. The Railways announced Rs 2 lakh ex gratia to the kin of each victim.