MP train tragedy: Passenger overcomes fear of water, floats to safety

The 39-year-old had never learnt to swim and has a phobia of water, but he fought his fear, clung to floating debris from the damaged train and got himself and his sister to safety

As most passengers slumbered peacefully onboard the Kamayani Express, around at 11.30 pm on Tuesday night, Muhammad Ibrahim (39) sat eating a banana, thanks to which, he was well awake and had his wits about him when disaster struck.

Read Story: MP twin train derailment kills 34, injures 250

Rescue workers have managed to recover 250 passengers travelling in both trains from the submerged bogies and the river. 13 men, 11 women and five children constitue the 29 dead bodies recovered thus far. Pic/PTI
Rescue workers have managed to recover 250 passengers travelling in both trains from the submerged bogies and the river. 13 men, 11 women and five children constitue the 29 dead bodies recovered thus far. Pic/PTI

What’s more, the 39-year-old never learnt to swim and is actually scared of water, but managed to cling to a floating piece of debris from the train, getting himself and his sister to safety. “I finished off the fruit and was climbing down from the top berth to throw the peel. There was a loud noise and the coach started shaking.

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Muhammad Ibrahim recalls struggling to stay afloat in the water that gushed into the compartment after Kamayani Express had derailed
Muhammad Ibrahim recalls struggling to stay afloat in the water that gushed into the compartment after Kamayani Express had derailed

I realised something was wrong and the next moment, the bogey had toppled and water was gushing in,” Ibrahim told mid-day. Cold water from the swollen Machak river kept flooding into coach S5, which sank into darkness as the power failed. Ibrahim, who didn’t know how to swim and had a phobia of water, thought he was going to die.

He could hear the muffled screams of his sister, Gulshan Begum (43), struggling to stay afloat. This is when he saw a fellow passenger opening an emergency window. He grabbed his sister by the hand and escaped the bogey from the window. Begum recalled, “My brother pulled me by my dupatta first, and then grabbed my hand.”

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They saw passengers floating along the current of the river, and they latched on to a floating section of the train that had broken off due to the impact of the accident. They clung on to it for dear life, and eventually managed to drift to the riverbank. While Ibrahim sustained injuries and scratches throughout his body, his sister received minor injuries. Both are now waiting at Katni station for a train to their hometown, Allahabad.

First time in Mumbai
Meanwhile, in Mumbai their relatives, Abdul Shaikh and Nafiz Ahmed, rushed to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) in a bid to trace their location and condition. “This was their first visit to Mumbai and they had come down to visit me.

I had gone to the station to help them board the Kamayani Express. We were unable to contact them after the accident, but they finally called us in the evening (on Wednesday) and told us they were safe and were going home,” said Abdul, Begum’s son-in-law.

Cancellations
LTT, amongst railway stations across the city, was crowded with scores of people, some of whom were there to enquire after their loved ones onboard Kamayani Express, while others were there to complain about and get refunds for cancelled train services.

Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

A Central Railway official said that most of the complaints on the helplines were about this, rather than the accident. “Many had come down to the railway stations thinking that the trains are working,” said the official, adding that the railways would refund the cancelled tickets over the next three days.

Family lives to tell the tale
It was a saving grace for the Matunga-based Dubey family that although they were travelling on the Kamayani Express, it wasn’t in the coaches that fell into the river.

Saroj Dubey thanks her stars that they were not in the coaches from Kamayani Express that derailed and fell into the river
Saroj Dubey thanks her stars that they were not in the coaches from Kamayani Express that derailed and fell into the river

Even so, Saroj Dubey (45), her sister-in-law Poonam (46), and Poonam’s five-year-old grandson all suffered injuries, for which they are now being treated at a local hospital in Harda, Madhya Pradesh. “We were sleeping after dinner, and suddenly, we felt a huge jerk in the train.

Before we could even understand what was happening, the train had derailed,” Saroj said, thanking her stars that they were booked onto coach S9, far behind coaches S1-S4, which fell into the river. “Despite that, water had entered our coach as well, and our luggage was wet. Luckily we were saved by God’s grace,” she added. - Vedika Chaubey

Voices

Saket Gyani, passenger’s relative
I am looking for my relative, Shri Gyani. I had helped him board the S3 compartment. Now we have no news of him.

Farida Sayyed, passenger’s wife
My husband, Sayyed Ali Imran, had come for an interview to Mumbai and was carrying his certificates, passport and cash. I have not been able to speak to him, but officials have informed that he is safe and under treatment.

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