New Delhi, Jul 27 : All stranded passengers of Mahalaxmi Express were safely evacuated on Saturday by the coordinated efforts of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF), which were pressed into rescue operation, the Home Ministry officials said.
Mahalaxmi Express had been stranded since early Saturday morning, with around 900 passengers on board, after heavy rains flooded the tracks between Badlapur and Vangani.
The rescue team first evacuated women, including nine pregnant ladies, children and then, the senior citizens were moved from the train. The male passengers were rescued in the last two batches, the railway officials told UNI.Badlapur station is 72 km from Mumbai.
Expressing satisfaction over the safe evacuation of all passengers, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, ''We were closely monitoring the entire operation. Kudos to the rescue teams for their exemplary effort of IAF, Railways, Army and state administration.''
"Under the leadership of the Home Minister, we swiftly coordinated with all relevant departments. I am happy to announce that we have been able to save 900 lives today", Minister of State for Home Affairs Nitynand Rai said, after the completion of the evacuation process.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also instructed the State Chief Secretary to personally monitor the rescue operations.
Mahalaxmi Express, which runs between Mumbai and Kolhapur, was held up between Badlapur and Wangani railway station, due to waterlogging on tracks, with nearly 900 passengers and staff, since this morning.
On getting information about this incident around 8.50 pm, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) immediately deputed two NDRF teams from Mumbai and Pune, along with nine boats and other necessary rescue equipment. They reached the spot at about 0940 hrs. At the same time, on the request of MHA, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) deployed Navy and Air Force teams for the rescue operation.
The naval teams reached the site with specialist divers. Two Mi-17 Indian Air Force Helicopters were also pressed into service, to assist in the rescue operation. Two columns of Army, along with 130 trained staff, food packages, water and rescue material, were also deployed.
Ministry of Railway also mobilised all necessary resources, including a relief train and provided medical assistance and refreshment to the passengers.
In spite of fully water-logged roads, tough and undulating terrain, the NDRF and Navy teams evacuated all the stranded passengers and railway staff safely from the train.
Further arrangement for a special 19-coach train has been made by the Indian Railways, for the movement of passengers, up to Kolhapur.(UNI)