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Rescue effort took too long to save motorman

india Updated: Oct 24, 2009 01:01 IST
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It was a chaotic rescue operation at the Thane rail mishap site on Friday.

As Central Railway (CR) workers raced to clear the rubble and remove the trapped motorman, R Ramachandran, residents and passersby gathered to see what had happened.

Many of the gawkers and even the policemen whipped out their camera phones to take pictures of the accident. It was a dramatic, though futile, rescue. The accident occurred at 10.55 am, but Ramachandran could be removed from his cabin only at 2.20 pm.

As his cabin crumpled from the impact with the collapsed bridge’s girder, Ramachandran was pinned to the floor. Rescue workers tried to give him water and also brought a table fan to ensure he had enough air, but the time taken to cut him out proved fatal.

Even as the rescue was on, politicians milled about the area giving sound bytes to television crews. Among them were MPs, MLAs, the mayor and corporators.

There was a horde of officials too — from the Thane fire brigade, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), the home guards, the police, the Railway Protection Force and the Government Railway Police. The TMC demanded a judicial probe, blaming CR for the accident.

“The original plan [for the bridge] involved eight girders and a pedestal. But CR refused permission for the pedestal,” City Engineer KD Lala said. “The girder which collapsed was put up in November 2006. Since then, we have put two more girders. Work on the fourth was halted mid-way. I have been anticipating this for a while.”

Lala said water supply to Kopri, where 1.5 lakh people reside, would be hit because of the damage to the water pipeline. It will take at least three days to normalise supply.