Everyone of us, heard about the Mahalaxmi Express, which was surrounded by water, in the newspaper or saw it live on the TV, but what was the situation on the train, of the passengers, this experience is shared with us by Ninad Upadhye, who was there on the train, on that day, all the time.
Read it and experience.
(This image credits – Google)
26th of July, Dombivli, my journey was about to begin, I took a Kalyan bound slow local from platform 1 of Dombivli at 8.45 pm. I was heading towards Kolhapur for my state level game by 17411 Mumbai-Kolhapur Mahalaxmi Express. It was raining heavily,I boarded the local, when I reached Kalyan the downpour was showing its deadly power.
I went towards platform 5 of Kalyan, while Dadar-Chennai Express with Ajni WAP7 banged on time at Kalyan platform 6 and the announcement was done that Mahalaxmi Express will also arrive at platform 6.
#40212 PUNE WDP4D hauled the 17411 Mahalaxmi Express also banged on time (9.19 pm)
I went inside and occupied my seat, it was still raining heavily, the signal was green and the route was clear.
My train departed kalyan at 9.23 pm and was about to reach Vitthalwadi. Slowly skipping Vitthalwadi, We went towards Ulhasnagar. Ulhasnagar was skipped with speed of 80 kmph and train continued towards Ambernath and at 9.50 pm Loco Pilot applied brakes and we were given the red signal at Ambernath outers, it was 10 pm, I was able to see Ambernath station but it was dark outside.
It was still raining heavily, people who boarded our train till Karjat got down from train and walked towards Ambernath on tracks . Now it was 11 pm but the train was standing at the same place and suddenly the news came that there is water logging at Ambernath and Badlapur so the traffic between the Kalyan and Karjat is suspended and the locals towards Karjat and Khopoli were getting terminated at Dombivli and Kalyan.
It was 12 am and there was no change in the situation, train was still at the same place. For next 2 hours the situation remained the same and everyone in the train started calling helplines but the lines were busy and no answer was there.
By now, it was 3 am and suddenly we heard a long horn, signal turned yellow and the train proceeded to Ambernath and everyone was happy that train finally moved. But then train took an unscheduled halt at Ambernath platform 1. As my coach was close to loco, I went towards it and had a conversation with LP. He said ‘there is still a water logging problem ahead and the local originated from Karjat was stucked at Vangani. Now that local had departed Badlapur, once that local gets cleared we will be getting the proceeding signal towards Karjat.
It was 3.25 am and the train departed from Ambernath, usually Kalyan to Ambernath it takes lesser than 20 minutes for the Express trains but on that day it took more than 3 hours, now train was at Badlapur and we skipped Badlapur at decent speed. After skipping Badlapur, I was able to see the ground floor/parking of the building besides the railway track full of water, then suddenly I saw that the Freight train was cleared from Vangni towards Kalyan. Also I checked the status of the Chennai Express it departed MONKEY HILL CABIN so I thought the route is clear now and expected to reach Pune at 5 am.
But, the Barvi Dam at Badlapur started to overflow and the gates of the dams were opened to release excess water came. Within a couple of minutes, the area of Badlapur and Vangni was under water. While we were continuing towards Vangani thrashing water but at 3.50 am just before the Vangani station LP and ALP applied brake and stopped the train. As there was water on the tracks and the visibility was zero, track disappeared. I was awake the whole night and was witnessing the water level increasing in the vicinity through my window ‘it was a sleepless night’.
Water level was increasing and also the rain was pouring continuously. The flood water was one step or one span away to enter the coach. I started dialling some of the numbers of railway officers, there was no response from their side as they were on duty and mobile phones are strictly prohibited on duty. Also the network was bouncing and there was less chances to connect the call.
Finally at 7 am, I tried calling my friend Akshay Bhatkar who works for ABP MAZA and luckily call got connected. He said to stay in the train and also told me that I’ll be getting one call from studio, this call will be live and I was supposed to tell them everything what is happening over there.
I told them everything about the situation and at 8.30 am, one police inspector came announcing that the NDRF, TDRF, NAVY, RPF and AIRFORCE team is on the way to rescue. Still the water level was same, and the NDRF will start rescuing people post 1.30 pm as there will be low tide. Also there was some extra food with me, so I started distributing to my co-passengers. It was 10.30 am and there was miracle, the water level started decreasing and also the rain was stopped. At a moment when the water level went down, some of the passengers and me decided to give some food to LOCO PILOT and ASSISTANT LOCO PILOT. Some RPF in the train helped us to do so.
It was now more than 12 hours, we were stuck, suddenly we hear some sound of Helicopters at 12 pm and it was Navy and Airforce Helicopters while NDRF, TDRF and NAVY team was coming down the hill for rescue, but they were not getting the safe route to the train and the distance between the train and the mountain was approximately 1.5 km. So they decided to reach at the back end of the train.
They started announcing that they are now starting the rescue operation. 8 boats were there, but at a time only 5 people can go along with their respective luggage. So they decided that they will provide boats only for children, ladies, senior citizens and handicapped people. Gents are supposed to walk through the flooded tracks with the help of ropes. It was now 3.30 pm, finally the rescue operation started. We started walking through the help of ropes with one hand holding the luggage on the head and other hand holding on to the ropes.
The depth was around 6 feet, somewhere we were supposed to swim as there was the depth more than 8 feet. After 2 kilometers of walk, there was a huge obstacle of crossing the mountain with all the wet clothes and luggage through the muddy way and this distance was 5 kilometers. Finally we came down the hill and tea, food packets were provided to the passengers
The bus was provided till kalyan, so passengers can proceed towards their respective destination from Kalyan. Special train to Kolhapur through the route Kalyan-Kasara-Nashik-Manmad-Daund-Pune was sent.
All this rescue operation took around 3 hours and I reached home at 7 pm. It was a scary, thrilling and different experience.
(This image credits – Google)
All this took 20 hours and it was a life changing experience. I will never forget these 20 hours of my life
- Picture and story credits Ninad Upadhye
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