Balasore train tragedy: How this ex-army man saved 28 lives

Having a deep understanding of disaster handling, Deepak displayed remarkable courage & selflessness, saving lives of 28 people trapped in the wreckage

| Updated: 07 June, 2023 10:40 am IST

NEW DELHI: The Balasore train accident, one of the most devastating incidents in recent decades, has left the nation in shock. Amidst the tragedy, a glimmer of hope emerged as several stories of humanitarian aid and heroic help of the locals came forth. Deepak Ranjan Behera, a 37-year-old ex-army man and long-time resident of Balasore, rose to the occasion. With his military background and a deep understanding of disaster handling, Deepak displayed remarkable courage and selflessness, saving the lives of 28 individuals trapped in the wreckage.

Living just 200-300 meters away from the accident site, Deepak Ranjan Behera was one of the first to respond to the horrifying sound of the collision. Recounting the moment, he said, “We heard some big noise, one of a massive collision, and the second of screeching bogies being dragged severely. Without hesitation, we rushed towards the spot, wondering what had happened.”

“I come from an army background, and immediately, I started helping people to come out of the inverted bogies. Some were unconscious, some were half stuck, their body parts trapped. In those initial moments, we worked with mobile flashlights since there was no light in the area. Light poles were rare, and if there was one, it was dim. While some chose to take pictures, I prioritized helping people, as the cries and screams of the injured disturbed me.”

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As Deepak and the local residents entered the accident site, they were confronted with a devastating scene. Bodies were piled up amidst the wreckage of multiple trains, and the urgency to rescue survivors grew. Deepak explained, “I first thought of helping those who were actively trying to free themselves from the debris. I tried to assist around 28 people initially, despite the lack of stretchers and our limited preparedness due to the suddenness of the incident.”

“At that moment, the authorities arrived, shocked to witness the magnitude of the tragedy. They put up barricades and asked us to leave. However, I made them understand that we, the locals, had been there from the beginning, providing aid to those in need. We insisted that we could provide additional manpower for the ongoing rescue efforts.”

Deepak’s bravery extended beyond assisting those in accessible areas. Realizing that some individuals were trapped halfway inside the wreckage, he approached the authorities for cutters to create openings in the window bars. With the tools in hand, Deepak and the local volunteers ventured into the bogies, maneuvering amidst the unconscious and injured.

“I was trying to find my footing amidst the unconscious bodies when suddenly, a hand grabbed my feet, begging for salvation. The person was alive but trapped below other unconscious bodies. Later, a pregnant woman screamed for help, pleading to save her child stuck on the other side of the bogie. I witnessed both fear and desperation in the eyes of those we were trying to save.”

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Despite the overwhelming sights and smells that tested Deepak’s resilience, he continued his valiant efforts. Reflecting on the experience, he shared, “Seeing so many bodies, blood, and the stench of the collision made me nauseous. But being human, I managed to overcome it. We found AC coaches and used blankets as makeshift stretchers.”

“I motivated those who were conscious, urging them to find the strength to escape the entangled mass of bodies. As soon as the authorities arrived, the rescue operations gained momentum, resulting in a more streamlined process.”

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Deepak Ranjan Behera’s heroic actions in the face of unimaginable adversity serve as an inspiration to us all. His unwavering dedication to saving lives and his ability to rise above the nightmare he witnessed demonstrate the indomitable spirit of the human heart. Deepak’s bravery and selflessness remind us that during times of crisis, ordinary individuals can turn into extraordinary heroes, standing as a beacon of hope and restoring faith in humanity.

As the nation continues to grapple with the aftermath of the Balasore train accident, stories like Deepak’s serve as a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. His actions will forever be etched in the memories of those who witnessed his extraordinary bravery, serving as an inspiration for generations to come.

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