400 passengers rescued from train in flooded Gujarat

Himalayan News Service

Ahmedabad, July 2:

Four hundred passengers of a train marooned in the carriages since Thursday and forced to live on its upper carriages and even on the roof were however rescued by Indian soldiers even as large parts of Gujarat remained flooded today as people struggled to cope with nature’s fury. Monsoon-triggered floods have claimed 123 lives with about 25 million affected, with the incessant rains leading to overflowing rivers and reservoirs and turning many towns and villages of central and south Gujarat into islands, officials said today. Officials estimated property losses at Rs.50 billion and said the disaster had badly affected industrial production.

The army used boats yesterday to evacuate the passengers of Shanti Express, which was stranded at Dakor railway station, about 110 km from here, Western Railway officials said. The passengers of the Gandhinagar-bound train from Indore were stranded at Dakor after rainwater submerged the tracks.

Heavy rains worsened the situation as water seeped into the stationary train and reached up to the lower berth level. The passengers spent Thursday night on the upper berths while some spent the night sitting atop the coaches as water continued to rise. Indian Air Force helicopters dropped food packets to passengers yesterday. Gujarat Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel said sections of 170 state roads and 929 district roads were washed away as the vigorous southwest monsoon made reservoirs and rivers overflow. The worst affected regions

— south and central Gujarat — incidentally form the “Golden Corridor” of the industrial belt running from Mehsana in the north to Vapi in the south. Surat, a major centre for the textile and diamond polishing industry, was flooded, impacting the units. Industry sources said many handloom and powerloom units were still inundated with water, and it would be a while before they resumed production.