Train Wreck in Central Cuba

By Gisselle Morales Rodriguez  (Progreso Semanal)

HAVANA TIMES — Dioney Martin shouldn’t have been on the train that covered the route between Siguaney and Sancti Spiritus at midday on February 27, 2017. If she had got on at Zaza del Medio it was only to do somebody a favor, a routine errand like taking a bag of food to the provincial hospital.

Dioney shouldn’t have climbed on board this kind of railcar because she had money to pay for a collective taxi, but the train is super safe, she thought and a lot cheaper. She got on with the same agility as other times and she sat on a seat at the back.

However, Dioney, who might be everything but impolite, gave up her seat to a woman and stopped to talk at the front part of the train car, right where it collided without mercy with a train loaded with sugar cane stakes which was coming in the opposite direction, just a short time afterwards.

Dioney Martin’s story is clearly not one of survival.

Julio Miguel Vera was also on his way to the provincial hospital, in his case to have a splinter taken out of his eye. When the crash caused a sharp pain in his eye and threw the man who he had been talking to, God knows about what, into the air.

Then, it was all chaos and dismembered bodies coming out in every direction because of the scale of the wreck and injured people lying on the train car’s floor, seats, on the stairs and outside, on both sides of the track, in the middle of a landscape “overtaken” by the marabu bush weed.

When rescue teams arrived, which was in a matter of minutes, Vera had already gotten up by himself and began to pick up live and dead passengers, carrying them on his shoulder. Terror made him do it, made him take people out of the train car and lay them down on the railway tracks where they would be loaded into ambulances and, from there, to the provincial hospital.

At these lengths, the splinter which tormented his eye had stopped hurting him.

If somebody gets onto a train and is one of those apocalyptic passengers, the ones who are always thinking about accidents, one could fantasize about loose cows being dragged along by the metal carriage or, in the worst case scenario, about the train derailing.

However, two trains colliding head on, traveling along the same track but in different directions and nobody realizing it until the catastrophe took place; this kind of scenario was highly unlikely centuries ago, when railways were created and with them, right of way.

(You don’t have to be a train conductor to know that two bodies can’t occupy the same space at the same time).

Vox populi, which doesn’t adhere to scientific research to support the truth, has taken the side of survivor accounts and blames the conductor. They say he left before he was supposed to, without getting the authorization he needed. And that this wasn’t the first time.

However, the law has to wait for the investigation committee’s final ruling, to tie up loose ends, completing the puzzle of scattered statements and, only then, pin the blame each of them had in the event. The blame for six deaths and over 50 people injured, which is no small matter.

However, people are very anxious awaiting “victim compensation” which they believe is taking too long: 19 days and nights, to be exact, because in Sancti Spiritus there are people who are counting each and every minute, in a lot of pain.