Over 50 bodies remain unclaimed, as families of victims await closure after deadly Odisha train collision
In the aftermath of a devastating train crash that claimed the lives of at least 293 people in India, more than 50 bodies remain unclaimed, leaving families in a state of limbo and grief. The tragic accident occurred on June 2 in the Indian state of Odisha, when a passenger train collided with a stationary goods train, derailing onto an adjacent track.
Subsequently, some of the overturned coaches were struck by another passing train. With over 1,000 people injured, it is considered the deadliest rail accident in India this century.
A month later, families still await news
Stored in a deep freeze container, the 52 bodies are in varying conditions, making identification a challenging process for grieving families.
One month after the deadly accident, while the accident site has been restored, many families are still unable to find closure as they continue their search for the bodies of their loved ones.
In Bhubaneswar city, near the AIIMS government hospital where the bodies are being kept, Shiv Charan, a resident of West Bengal, has been living in a guest house for the past month, reports BBC.
Charan visits the hospital regularly in the hope of finding his brother Krishra's body, with whom he spoke moments before the crash.
However, the agonising wait seems endless, as he has only managed to identify some of his brother's clothes and is awaiting the results of a DNA test before he can claim them.
Like many others, Charan has sent his DNA samples for testing, a crucial process implemented by the authorities to ensure accurate identification when multiple claimants are involved. However, the timeline for receiving the test results remains uncertain.
Speaking to BBC, he said: "No one has told me when the report will come."
Charan says he wouldn't leave without his brother's body. "I want his last rites to be performed properly," he said. Similar to him, other families too have been camping nearby awaiting information on their lost loved ones.
Identification process continues
As per BBC, last week, 29 bodies were identified through DNA reports, and officials have begun handing them over to their respective families. However, there are still 52 bodies that remain unidentified.
Biswajit Sahu, the chief public relations officer of East Coast Railways, assured the publication that the identification process is being conducted cautiously to prevent any errors.
He said that the identification of next of kin "is being done with the help of railway officials, Odisha police, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation officials and AIIMS staff."
Nevertheless, as per authorities, as time goes on, the task of identifying the bodies becomes increasingly challenging. Questions have arisen regarding the duration for which unclaimed bodies can be kept and what should be done if there are no claimants.
Some have suggested mass cremation as a possible solution. However, as per Sahu, no decision can be made until the DNA testing process is completed.