A month after a fatal train crash in India, the search for bodies in Odisha is still painful

train crash in Odisha

A month after a deadly train accident in India that left 293 people dead, more than 50 bodies are still unaccounted for.

A passenger train derailed on to an adjacent track after colliding with a stopped goods train in the eastern state of Odisha in June.

Another train that was traveling by struck a few of the overturned coaches after that.

The crash, which has been dubbed India's worst rail accident this century, left more than 1,000 people injured.

The accident site has since been cleaned up, but many families claim that because they are still looking for their loved ones' bodies, they are unable to find closure.

Shiv Charan, who hails from the eastern state of West Bengal, has been residing in a guest house in the Odisha city of Bhubaneswar for the past month.

The government hospital where the bodies are kept, Aiims, is nearby.

Odisha train crash
To this day, Mohammad Kareem has not located the body of his brother-in-law.

In all, 52 bodies have been located and are being kept in a deep freezer. The identification process is made even more difficult for families because some of the bodies are in poor condition.

Mr. Charan frequently visits the hospital in the hopes of discovering the body of his brother Krishra, with whom he spoke just before the accident. But the torturous wait goes on forever.

He claims that so far, he has only been able to recognize a few of his brother's clothes, and he is still awaiting the results of the DNA test before he can claim them.

Like many others, Mr. Charan sent his DNA samples for testing. The authorities are using this technique to identify bodies so that they go to the correct family when there are multiple claimants.

According to Mr. Charan, who also told the BBC that he wouldn't leave without his brother's body, "No one has told me when the report will come.". He says, "I want his last rites to be carried out properly.

Another victim, Anzarul Haque, is survived by his wife and three young kids. His wife frequently sobs in front of him at home in West Bengal State as her husband's body is still missing.

In Bhubaneswar, Haque's brother and brother-in-law have been camping out while visiting the hospital every day. They have given DNA sample samples and are awaiting the results.

The BBC was informed by Mohammad Kareem, Haque's brother-in-law, that "a month has gone by and we have not been able to get any information about his body.".

Each day that passes, the family's hopes of finding the body grow less and less. And a lot of people share the same circumstance.

29 bodies were identified last week using DNA reports, and authorities are now releasing them to the families. In addition, there are 52 bodies whose identities are still unknown.

According to East Coast Railways' chief public relations officer, Biswajit Sahu, "they are working cautiously to avoid any error.".

With the assistance of railway staff, Odisha police, Bhubaneswar municipal corporation staff, and Aiims staff, he continued, "Identification of next of kin is being done.".

Odisha train crash
Wife and kids of Anzarul Haque.

According to the authorities, it will get harder and harder to identify the bodies as time passes.

Unclaimed bodies can only be stored for a certain amount of time, and it's unclear what will happen to them if no one makes a claim. Mass cremation has been suggested as a solution by some.

But according to Mr. Sahu, no choice can be made until the DNA testing procedure is complete.

On June 2nd, a terrible train accident occurred close to Bahanga station in the Balasore district.

The two trains are believed to have carried more than 3,000 passengers, and reports indicate that both were fully loaded.

The incident is being investigated by India's top federal investigative agency.

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