23 bodies lie unclaimed under Jaipur sky

May 14th, 2008 - 12:17 pm ICT by admin  

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt and Sahil Makkar
Jaipur, May 14 (IANS) They looked like they were just sleeping, but their tattered clothes, deep wounds and blood clotted faces told a story of terror, devastation and desolation. Lying under the sky on the pavement outside the morgue at a city hospital here Wednesday morning were bodies of 23 people, including two women and a child, waiting for their relatives to claim them.

As the series of bomb blasts ripped through the Rajasthan capital, killing 61 and injuring over 100, the victims were taken to the Sawai Mansingh (SMS) Hospital nearby.

Soon, the mortuary in the state’s largest hospital was full. Some bodies had to be shifted to the floor.

Relatives rushed in. While 33 bodies were handed over by 5.30 a.m. Wednesday, the rest remained here, among the blood-caked clothes.

The next 72 hours are crucial for these victims. By then, if no one comes forward to claim the bodies, the hospital authorities will hand them over to the police for state burial.

A doctor, who did not sleep a wink the whole night and had never before seen so many bodies at the morgue, said they had kept the dead in the open, hoping that they would be identified, before being shifted to the freezer.

“We have a deep freezer where we can keep 150 bodies. This kind of devastation has happened for the first time here,” he told IANS.

The doctor said most victims had shrapnel injuries in the head, chest or abdomen. No autopsies were carried out.

Apart from relatives and the injured, the hospital was also swarming with volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh.

“We were helping people to identify their loved ones, either in the emergency (section) or in the morgue. We also managed and helped police to clear the traffic when the blasts occurred so that the injured could be taken to hospital fast,” said Brahm Shankar Sharma.

According to him among the dead 10 were women and three were children.

The hospital ward where the blast survivors were being treated looked like a war zone with bandages, blood, glucose bottles and plasters strewn around. There were not enough beds. Many slept on benches.

A tired-looking SMS Hospital Medical Superintendent Narpat Singh Shekhawat told IANS that their hospital was treating 84 injured, of which 10 were in serious condition, while two were battling for their lives. Among the injured, about 71 victims are still unidentified.

Doctors from Udaipur, Kota, Ajmer, Jodhpur and Sikar were called in to help. “We have conducted all our operations and most people had fractures and other injuries,” Shekhawat said.

Mahesh Chenli, 32, had cried so much with [pain that he had gone hoarse. “I can’t bear this pain,” he said as his 52-year-old mother Savitri Devi tended to him. Doctors operated on him to remove a pellet from his abdomen.

“Thank god he had gone inside his employer’s shoe shop seconds before the blast occurred. He would not have lived if he had remained standing outside the shop,” the mother said.

When Savitri Devi first heard of the blasts, she prayed hard for the survival of her only son. Her prayers have been heard.

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