Over 700 Passengers of stranded Mahalaxmi Exp rescued

The NDRF, IAF and two columns of the army are currently deployed to rescue the passengers of the Mahalaxmi Express

Nearly 700  people were rescued from the stranded Mahalaxmi Express in Vangani in Thane district in a daring multi-agency operation on Saturday. The Kalyan-Ulhasnagar-Badlapur belt of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region received heavy rainfall - between 280 to 330 mm rainfall on Friday and Saturday.

Mumbai rains LIVE | All 1,050 stranded passengers of Mahalaxmi Express have been evacuated safely

The heavy rainfall resulted in flooding of the Ulhas river - thus trapping the Mumbai-Kolhapur Mahalaxmi Express and its passengers between Badlapur and Vangani station on the Central Railway. Vangani is located nearly 70 kms from downtown Mumbai.

The water reached almost the footboard level resulting in a panic in passengers who took to social media to express their ordeal. Teams of National Disaster Response Force,  two columns of  Army,  special teams and fire brigade units from Thane Municipal Corporation and Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation,  eight teams of  Navy,  three helicopters - two Seeking of Navy and one Mi-17 of Air Force were involved in the operations that lasted for 17 hours.

"Happy to inform that all the passengers have been evacuated successfully," Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis after the operations ended. The rescued include nine pregnant women - one of whom went into labour, several senior citizens, infants and kids and some physically-challenged passengers. 

As many as 37 doctors including gynaecologists were part of the rescue teams. The lady who went into labour had been admitted to a local hospital.
The train had come to a halt around 10 pm. Teams of the Thane police, reached the train, nearly seven to eight km away from the Badlapur station, by 9 am. 

 

"We are stranded,  we were helpless, a snake also sneaked in our compartment, we were scared," said Asha Barode, one of the passenger. "We had run out if drinking water," said Dilip More another passenger. A lady passenger, Pradnya, posted a video with her kid and how she was stranded. A passenger also requested police to send life-jackets.

Once the police team reached the place, an officer made an announcement on the megaphone that the help was reaching and advised them not to venture out. 
By 10 am, NDRF teams reached near the train and the orange outfits of the men gave a sigh of relief to the stranded passengers.

"In some time helicopters started hovering around, it was a  sign that help was on way...it came as a relief," said digital journalist Vivek Bhavsar, who hails from Badlapur. 

Another Badlapur resident, MP Joshi, who is a communication consultant, said that after several years,  he has seen this kind of inundation. "My local train stopped at Kalyan. By road, I reached home in Badlapur," he said adding that a merely half-an-hour journey took him four hours. 

Rescuing over 700 passengers was not an easy task. Passengers were helped into the inflatable boats and then taken near a hillock. Buses, trucks and tempos were organised and they were taken to Sahyadri Mangal Karyalaya. The arrangement was made for their onward journey.

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