Mumbai, Aug 30 (PTI) When 33-year-old Urmila Dethe boarded a Mumbai-bound suburban train at Dombivli in the adjoining Thane district last morning, little did she know that her journey, which normally takes just over an hour, will stretch for almost 12 hours.
What made the matters more complicated was that the journalist, who works with a leading Marathi newspaper, is seven months pregnant.
“I was in the compartment reserved for the handicapped which had around 20 people, including eight visually-challenged people who had spent the night in a train during the July 26, 2005 deluge,” said Dethe, who boarded the train at around 11.30 AM.
She was headed to the Bombay High Court, her ‘beat’ for the newspaper. However, the journey came to a halt at 20 km before her destination, and ended with a dramatic rescue in waist deep waters in the dead of night.
“My train got stuck between Kurla and Sion. Through the afternoon, I called and tweeted for help. At one point, I grew concerned for the fellow passengers in the handicapped compartment and chose to stay on,” she told PTI.
Fire brigade and police officials tried to find her but did not make any headway.
Dethe managed to contact her husband on phone but even he could not reach her due to the chaotic traffic caused by heavy rains. Her husband works in the suburban Bandra Kurla complex.
The local Samaritans patrolling the waters, as the tracks had turned into, kept the marooned passengers well fed through their ordeal.
Things took a dramatic turn after nightfall, and the number of such helpers also reduced. In between, a local teenager was rescued by an able-bodied passenger from neck-deep waters, after he slipped into a culvert along the tracks.
Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar came to know about Dethe’s plight and called her on phone.
“His (Shelar) call was very reassuring,” she said.
To add to her woes, the mobile network also went down at the same time, proving to be a big stumbling block for rescuers, who were struggling to locate her.
Finally, at about 11.55 PM, Dethe heaved a sigh of relief when she saw one end of a Mumbai Fire Brigade ladder recline against the train body and a hand come up, directing her to climb down.
“They actually picked me up like a small kid without letting me touch the water. I cannot thank them enough,” an emotional Dethe said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.