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Mumbai: Army man escapes burning terminus from toilet window

Havaldar V Sanjay Shankar was caught in the waiting-room washroom of Bandra Terminus, whose ACs short-circuited yesterday

A havaldar from the Indian Army had to put his life in the line of fire at Bandra Terminus on Tuesday morning. The army man made a dramatic escape out of the toilet window to save his life from a fire that broke out yesterday.

Fire officials expel smoke, and cool down the waiting room that caught fire
Fire officials expel smoke, and cool down the waiting room that caught fire

V Sanjay Shankar was in the toilet of the air-conditioned first-class waiting room on the first floor of the terminus when it got engulfed in fire. Sources said he got stuck after the air-conditioners caught fire following a short circuit. The incident happened around 8.20 am, when people were waiting for their trains.

The pipe using which V Sanjay Shankar climbed his way to the ground outside the terminus
The pipe using which V Sanjay Shankar climbed his way to the ground outside the terminus

Shankar was heading to Chandigarh after a month’s holiday to resume duty. He said, “I came here in the morning from Kolhapur to board the Paschim Express that was about to depart at 11.30 am from Bandra Terminus.”

“Suddenly, I heard people screaming outside. As soon as I opened the door, there was smoke around and I could hardly see anything,” he added. He shut the washroom’s door to keep the smoke out and began calling out for help from the window.

Flames interrupted Jatin Kocher’s nap on a sofa under one of the ACs that had caught fire 
Flames interrupted Jatin Kocher’s nap on a sofa under one of the ACs that had caught fire. (Right) Havaldar V Sanjay Shankar

He then began removing the glass panes of the window to create sufficient space to wiggle out of the opening. “I had no other option but to climb down the pipe fitted on the exterior,” he said. The toilet was adjacent to the AC room. Around the same time, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) stationed at the terminus came to his aid.

An RPF policeman said they began guiding him down as they formed a huddle beneath, so Shankar wouldn’t get injured in case he fell. It took around five minutes or so for him to escape from the floor.

In all, eight passengers were rescued from the waiting room on fire. The flames had already lapped up two ACs, sofas and furniture inside the room, and were rapidly spreading.

The RPF managed to
control the fire using extinguishers, until the firemen arrived and doused the flames by 8.40 am. Railway officials said that the room had six ACs, of which two caught fire, apparently due to a short circuit. Jatin Kocher (21), who was going to Delhi aboard the 12.55 pm Garibrath Express, was lying down on a sofa right below an AC that had caught fire.

He said, “I was sleeping on the sofa when I heard fellow passengers screaming. I woke up with a start and realised that the room was on fire. Though the situation was worsening, I helped other passengers get out of the room.”

Officialspeak
While the passengers were shaken, the railway authorities made light of the incident. A Western Railway spokesperson said, “It was not a major fire and was doused in 15 minutes.

Beginner's bad luck
K Jasuben (36), who had flown from Uganda at 6.30 am yesterday itself, was at the terminus to catch the Garibrath Express for Ahmedabad. She said it was her first train travel from Mumbai. “I was full of enthusiasm when I insisted that my relatives fly down till Mumbai and then take the train with me. I was resting when people there began shouting and there was chaos all around. Somehow, we managed to save our lives.”

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