Asia Pacific / Science & Health

Rescuers evacuate over 500 passengers from stranded train in southern India

AP, AFP-JIJI

Rescuers in India have evacuated more than 500 passengers from a train after it got stuck in monsoon floodwaters between two stations near Mumbai.

A statement by the Disaster Management Office in Maharashtra state said the Mahalaxmi Express train, which left Mumbai at around 8.15 p.m. Friday for Kolhapur, got stuck at 3 a.m. Saturday due to floodwater on the tracks. It was carrying about 700 passengers.

The National Disaster Response Force and the navy launched a rescue operation after authorities warned passengers not to move. The first group of 150 passengers was rescued after the train had been stranded for nine hours in the area, which is about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Mumbai.

Aerial images showed boats taking people wearing life jackets away from the stricken train, trapped in a sea of muddy brown water that covered surrounding fields.

Ambulances and at least 37 doctors were deployed to treat passengers, who were also given food and water, Indian Railways said.

A company spokesman added that a “special relief train” would take people to their final destinations.

Heavy monsoon rains battered Mumbai forcing the cancellation of 11 flights from the financial capital’s international airport on Saturday, while nine incoming planes were diverted to other airports.

At least 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain fell in some parts of Mumbai over 24 hours.

More than 250 people have died in flooding across India in the past two weeks, with Assam and Bihar states the worst hit.