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Home > News > Diary

How the people on the bus were saved

July 27, 2005 16:31 IST

We asked readers about how they coped with the torrential rain in Mumbai and this is what the responses said, verbatim:

My sister reached home safely at 11 am today after 19 hours. there was no police, no navy but around 200 locals who saved their lives.

The story goes like this as told by my sister... people get stranded on buses, cars in kurla at around 4 pm, water reaches neck level in the single decker buses when locals rush to help them. they break some seats, get ropes so that people can hold it and float from the single decker bus to double decker bus in neck deep water. Passengers stay overnight in the bus, around 150 in the upper deck as the deck below is completely submerged in water. The locals keep a watch on them the whole night telling them not to get scared.

They wait for help patiently. Luckily the rain also subsides and the water level comes down to around 9 feet. There were around 200 locals in the morning at 6 am. They carry ropes and 5 litre empty plastic dabbas. They conduct the rescue operation in a very organized manner. The ropes are used to tie the buses and people hold them while getting down the bus.

One local helps one passenger cross the current and hands him over to another local who helps him swim using the empty plastic container as support and takes him to Kurla station. The women get scared at first but after persuasion by the volunteers they agree and they are also carried safely till Kurla station. The Kurla locals really took good care of all the passengers and saved the passengers on the bus.

My sister and the other passengers are alive today because of the locals. You are the real heroes. thank you so much.

Thanks to rediff for contacting all the top officials and for empathising with us, hopefully the other people stranded at kurla get rescued by the navy/army soon. I would like to mention that the staff at rediff were extremely helpful especially Mani who was awake the whole night and was constantly in touch with us and the senior officials. Thank you Mani. Thank u rediff. Thank you kurla locals. People in Mumbai still do care.

-- Gopa

It was a night that I won't forget in a hurry. My workplace is in Worli and I stay at Vasai which are almost 50+ km apart. My mother called up at 2:30 pm yesterday and mentioned that it was raining heavily in Vasai. If I had left the office at that time itself perhaps I would have reached home safely. As I am writing this (11 AM), I have spent the night in the office and I am still waiting for the trains to start plying between Mumbai Central and Virar.

As of now they are running between Andheri and Virar. There is no way I can reach Andheri -- roads are still submerged. Yesterday I left the office at around 5 pm. As soon as I came out of the office building I was greeted with knee deep water. I managed to reach the bus stop (500 meters away) and the whole road was submerged with water. Annie Besant Road was choc-a-block with vehicles all trying to reach their destinations but as the roads were submerged the traffic was literally crawling. The BEST bus came within 15 mins and I hoped to reach the station in 20-25 mins (normal time 10 mins). As our bus reached Haji Ali we could see nature's fury. The rainfall seemed to fall non-stop and the sea looked omnious. Visibililty was very poor. One of my co-passenger asked for my mobile phone as he was unable to make calls with his phone. Thats when I realised that I had not called up home before leaving the office. I tried but in vain. It seemed that the whole Mumbai was using their cells at that precise moment thus causing network jamming. The bus didn't move from Haji Ali for 20-25 minutes. Thats when some of us decided to walk to the Mumbai Central station. As soon as we crossed CrossRoads, we encountered knee-deep water.

None of the vehicles were plying. There was a huge crowd of people walking in the water both towards Mumbai Central and Haji Ali. Suddenly there came a huge crowd of college students. Probably the college decided to leave the students because of rains. These people were totally unconcerned about the rains and they were having a huge ball walking through knee-deep water. Almost the whole stretch between CrossRoads and Tardeo bus depot was submerged under water and in some places the water was waist deep.

I could see some vehicles refusing to move, with people pushing them. Many were actually enjoying walking in the water by splashing water on each other. I could see the helpful nature of people as they helped car-owners restart thier cars, helping children and elderly people walk through the water. I saw many cars half submerged in water with their exhausts creating bubbles in water.

As soon as I reached Mumbai Central (6 pm), I saw that the water had completely submerged the tracks and was only couple of inches away from reaching the platforms. The station was very crowded and some people told me they were standing there since 3 pm. There was a huge rush in railway stalls selling eatables. I helped myself to a couple of vada pavs and some aloo bhujia. I knew its going to be a long night. The vada pav guy probably sold more vada pavs yesterday than he does in the whole month.

I looked for a public phone but was shocked to see that one was lying on the floor with the connection severed. I had to go out of the station and try from there. There was a big queue for making calls. Probably many networks were not working. I waited for my turn and thanks to MTNL was able to tell my family about my whereabouts. I came back to the station and started looking for a place where I can settle down. But I couldn't find any place to sit.

I could hear some announcements that no mail-express trains will leave Mumbai till further notice. I had hoped that I would catch some express train if the authorities decide to leave those trains first. I had one more round of vada-pavs, chai so that I don't feel hungry during night (I had prepared for a night out at station). There were frequent announcements that no trains would leave until further notice. I was standing since 6:00 till 9:30 and I could not find a place to sit. Some people had used whatever paper or plastic sheet they could get hold of and sat on the muddy floor.

After 9:30 my legs could bear it no more and I once again got out of station and decided to sit at the bus station just above the Mumbai Central station hoping to hear some positive news about the restarting of train service.

At 11:30 I got a call from one of the colleagues that I should come back to office as many others who had left had come back as they were unable to proceed. I also decided to spend the night in the office with my colleagues. I reached the offie and was pleasantly surprised to see that the company had arranged dinner for us. We also managed to screen a popular Hindi movie in our conference room. The whole night hardly anyone slept as people were talking about the rains and hoping that the colleagues who had not returned reach safely to their homes.

Today morning also, there is still no news as to when the trains would start and we would be able to leave. So even though the government has declared it to be a public holiday, we are still in the office working hoping that our ordeal would end soon.

Anup

More Monsoon Tales: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5


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