Berhampur: An occasional wail pierced through the stunned silence of the wintry Sunday night as mortal remains of eight victims of the Mandrajpur bus tragedy were consigned to flames in a mass cremation in Dangalpadu village.
They were among the 10 people electrocuted and burned alive after the bus they were travelling in to attend a marriage negotiation ceremony came into contact with a high voltage electric wire on Sunday afternoon.
A wave of shock swept the sleepy village in Ganjam district as people got to know of the tragedy.
Hundreds from Dangalpadu and adjoining villages gathered at the homes of the deceased to comfort the bereaved families.
The biers were taken out of the homes of the victims in a procession as relatives cried inconsolably, while some fought back tears. A sullen crowd joined the procession to the village cremation ground.
“I am heartbroken. It is for the first time in my life that I am seeing eight bodies being cremated together in my village,” said K Rameya, an 80-year-old, tears rolling down his furrowed face.
As rituals were performed and pyres were lit, an occasional wail of despair would shoot through the silence broken only by the crackling of the burning wood.
“When my daughter boarded the bus, she was very happy she was going to attend the marriage negotiation ceremony. I cannot believe that she is no more, that I will not see her again,” said a distraught Gopal Sahu, whose 12-year-old daughter Santoshini died in the accident.
The daughter of B Laxmi, who was also in the bus, prays for her mother’s life. She was severely injured in the accident and referred to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.
“I am praying while she fights for survival,” Kunti, her daughter, tells a visiting reporter before quietly closing her eyes and folding her hands in prayer.
Ten people, including six women, were electrocuted and burnt to death while 22 others were injured in the accident.
Another body was taken by the family of the deceased for cremation to Bada Chandanbada, a village close to Dangalpadu, while an 11-year-old boy, who was rushed to SCB Medical College and Hospital in a critical condition, was declared brought dead.
Police was deployed at Dangalpadu to help the bereaved families perform the last rites of the victims, Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Berhampur, Jayant Kumar Mohapatra said.