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Indian Railways training divers for underwater rescue ops

Divers being trained to rescue passengers and retrieve bodies from coaches underwater (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@drmsbc)

Indian Railways is not only upgrading trains and lines but also giving top priority to safety of passengers. Keeping this in view railways has commenced India’s first ever programme of specialised training for officers and staff in underwater rescue at Indian Railway Institute of Disaster Management located at Bengaluru’s Hejjala area.

This five-day programme to handle underwater disaster situations which commenced on 10th April will end on 14th, is being conducted in collaboration with IRIDM and it is training divers who belong to the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, and railway staff who specialise in accident relief.

The Railways during this training will not only test the efficiency of an ultrathermic cutting equipment – used to cut metal bodies underwater – but also teach divers in this specialised job.

For implementing the training, an artificial lake has been created where the state-of-the-art equipment was checked and a mock drill conducted to retrieve bodies in coaches stuck underwater. As per the scenario the collapse of a bridge resulted in the coaches landing into the water with passengers in it.

Looking for survivors, divers in lifeboats rescue them while also going underwater to search for them. Following this, using cutters, they slice through the train coaches to retrieve the bodies.

The Director-General of Railway Safety, Brijmohan Agrawal, talking to the media said even though underwater rescues are extremely rare, IR must be prepared for that.

Quoting Agarwal, a Times of India report said: “We have had no case of a train falling into a waterbody in the recent past… That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t train our personnel. This is the first batch… once they graduate, we will bring in more officers for training. This will be a continuous process and the trained staffers will be placed across the country.”

Among other agencies attending the training are Kolkata’s Life Saving Society, and Goa’s Special Rescue Training Academy.