by Pankaj Yadav
AMRITSAR, India, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- As many as ten dead bodies are yet to be identified and claimed by their family members in India's northern city of Amritsar, where a heart-wrenching train mishap killed 61 on Friday evening, local government officials said on Saturday.
A passenger train running at a high speed had mowed down a crowd of people while they were enjoying "Dussehra" festivities, standing on the railway tracks. They did not realize the approaching of the train amidst loud sounds of crackers on the festive occasion.
Dussehra is a Hindu festival marking the triumph of good over evil. Effigies are burnt and fireworks are set off as part of the festival in north India.
Shiv Raj, a local administration official in Amritsar, told Xinhua at the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Medical College that there were as many as 58 injured persons who were admitted across seven hospitals in the city, out of whom around 10 are said to be in a critical condition.
He said a total of 32 post-mortems had been conducted so far at the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and the Civil Hospital. So far, six of the dead have been found coming from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, while some of them are still to be identified and claimed.
"As many as ten bodies are yet to be identified and claimed by their family members or relatives," he said, adding that many of the dead seem to be working as labourers here.
Those injured and admitted in various hospitals are yet to come out of the shock. Some of them lost their family members in the tragic incident.
Ravi Kumar, 22, one of the injured who is a factory worker hailing from Uttar Pradesh's Barabanki district, lost his four-year-old sister. His eight-year-old brother remains in an intensive care unit (ICU) in hospital battling for life.
One of Ravi Kumar's relatives told Xinhua that "he had gone to see the 'Dussehra' festivities along with his brother and sister. He was standing just two feet away from the railway tracks holding his younger sister's hand when suddenly the train arrived and his sister slipped away from his hand, and was later found dead."
The railway route has been shut since Friday evening when the tragedy struck the festival revelers.
Gurdyal Singh, who works as a social worker, was seen collecting body parts of the dead with the aim of performing their last rites.
"Whoever died in this accident were all human beings, irrespective of the community or colour. I have been doing this work of collecting unclaimed dead bodies, or body parts, and performing their last rites in the name of humanity," he added while collecting limbs of those dead in a gunny bag.
Meanwhile, all educational institutions, shops and business establishments remained shut in the city even as the residents are still to recover from the tragedy.
"In my lifetime I haven't heard of this kind of mishap of this magnitude in Amritsar. As a mark of respect and condolence to those who died in this mishap, most of shops and business establishments are shut today in our city," said an owner of popular eatery "Brahawan da Dhaba."
India's sprawling railways is the world's third largest network, ferrying around 23 million people each day.
However, train disasters are quite common in India because much of the colonial-era rail infrastructure is out of date and needs urgent overhaul.