On Saturday, the Maharashtra government’s prompt action resulted in the safe rescue of all the passengers stranded aboard the long-distance Mahalaxmi Express, which was caught in the deluge after tracks near Badlapur in Thane were submerged due to heavy rain fall.
The Kolhapur-bound Mahalaxmi Express left from Mumbai on Friday night but got stuck in Badlapur in Thane district at 3 am on Saturday. The RPF and the state police immediately reached the site and distributed biscuits and water to the stranded passengers, the central railways tweeted. By 10.30 am, two teams of the National Disaster Response Force had reached the site to carry out rescue operations.
Regular updates were provided by the Navy, the NDRF and the Central Railways. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavais too provided updates through the official Twitter handle of the chief minister. He also took to Twitter to appeal to the stranded passengers ‘not to worry’. The chief minister, who was in touch with the MHA, also reportedly instructed the chief secretary to personally monitor the rescue operations.
CM @Dev_Fadnavis instructs the Chief Secretary to personally monitor rescue operations at Wangi where people are stranded in #MahalaxmiExpress. 4 teams of NDRF reached and they are evacuating passengers with the help of 8 boats. #MumbaiRainspic.twitter.com/PROLgLJNeo
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) July 27, 2019
Abhay Yawalkar, the director of the Disaster Management unit of the Maharashtra government, wrote to the air command of NDRF, Air Force and Navy to do carry out necessary rescue operations “including airlift of passengers.” Eight flood rescue teams from Navy, including three diving teams, were mobilised with rescue material, inflatable boats and life jackets. The Maharashtra government also requested defence officials to arrange an airlift to rescue the passengers stranded abroad the 17412 Mahalaxmi Express, after which a Seaking helicopter was deployed.
As a result of the multi-agency operation, all the passengers, including nine pregnant women and an infant, had been rescued by 4 pm on Saturday, barely 13 hours since the train was stranded. The stranded passengers were taken to a safe spot at Kalyan, from where a special train was to take them to Kolhapur, tweeted Fadnavis.
Later in the day, citizens as well as officials took to Twitter to laud the efforts of the rescue teams. “Kudos to the rescue teams for their exemplary effort,” tweeted Union Home minister Amit Shah. MoS Home Nityanand Rai thanked everyone who helped rescued the stranded passengers.
MoS Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, on #MahalaxmiExpress rescue operation: On behalf of the Home Minister, I express my gratitude to Railway officers, Defence officials – especially the Air Force officers, and everyone who helped in rescuing the passengers on-board the train.
— ANI (@ANI) July 27, 2019
The prompt efforts of the Fadnavis-led government were probably executed keeping in mind the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections.
With inputs from agencies
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Mahalaxmi Express stranded: Prompt action by Maharashtra govt results in safe rescue of all passengers – Firstpost