BALASORE, India—Survivors of one of India's deadliest train crashes have recalled last Friday's accident that killed at least 278 people, with one saying he was traumatized by the carnage and vowing never to travel by train again.
The three-train collision, which also injured nearly 1,200, occurred in the eastern state of Odisha. Many of the passengers were migrant workers.
One such passenger was Mantu Kumar Manjhi, a 32-year-old from the eastern state of Bihar taking the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express from Kolkata while traveling to Tamil Nadu state, in India's deep south, in search of work.
"I can't believe that I'm alive," Manjhi told Kyodo News on Sunday from his bed in a corridor of a hospital in Baleshwar, about 25 kilometers from the train wreck. "After the accident, I saw dead bodies all over the coach I was traveling in."
"There were pools of blood everywhere," he said.
Another passenger, Masud Rehman, who is recovering at a hospital in the city of Soro, located 7 km from the site, said, "I couldn't rescue anyone. Everything happened within seconds."
"When I tried looking out of the train, I could see the coach was derailed and on top of a freight train."
Rehman, a 20-year-old from Murshidabad in West Bengal state, recalled that soon after he sat down on the floor, the packed train started shaking and then crashed, leaving him trapped beneath other passengers.
The Railways Ministry said the crash was caused by a signal failure coupled with a fault in the interlocking safety system, according to the Press Trust of India.
The train entered the wrong track, hit a freight train, derailed and collided with another passenger train coming from the opposite direction.
Thousands of passengers were thrown from the carriages while others were trapped inside, according to local media reports.
The train operator, Indian Railways, on Monday put the official death toll at 278 after three more people succumbed to their injuries, PTI reported, while the Odisha state government kept their fatality figure at 275 and the number of injured at 1,175.
Odisha's Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said Tuesday more than 180 victims had been identified and over 150 bodies handed over to bereaved families.
The crash came despite India pushing to modernize its railway systems and improve its transport links amid public criticism over the country's aging infrastructure.
The railway operator has been working day and night at the accident site to restore damaged tracks, and part of the affected line resumed service on Monday.