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1,050 passengers stranded on board Mahalaxmi Express rescued after 17 hours

“I received a call from guardian minister Eknath Shinde on Friday night that several passengers are stranded. I immediately approached our local groups and we started circulating messages on WhatsApp. Within fifteen to twenty minutes we were at the rescue spot,” said Anand Waigankar, a local resident.

Villagers formed human chain to conduct rescue operation. Ganesh Irfale a villager said, “We first provided water and snacks such as biscuits to stranded passengers and also formed a human chain to rescue the passengers. Temporary shelter was also provided to them to freshen up.”

Some of the passengers suggested that the railways improve its emergency communication system so that those stranded get live updates to mitigate the haplessness. “When I dialled 100 (police help line number), I was told it was matter concerning the railways. I was shocked to hear such a response from the police,” a student in the train said.

Another passenger Amol Rane said, “We were stuck here for more than ten hours. When we started calling the emergency numbers, we only received sympathetic reply, rather than prompt action.”

The Maharashtra government had requested defence officials to arrange airlift of the stranded passengers. Many passengers were rescued through inflatable boats of the NDRF, while others were carried on the shoulders of the rescue personnel. Some also waded across the flooded tracks on their own.

The rescued passengers made their onward journey in a special train that left from Kalyan at 6:10 pm, CR chief public relations officer Sunil Udasi said.

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