Natural Disasters Take Much Away From Us
Our Humanity Was Not Carried Off in the Floods
They knew that swimming in the floods that took even massive tuskers away was not an easy feat. But they had no alternative but to jump into the flooded waters to save the lives of people marooned inside a bus in the floods.
The floods caused by the torrential rains that soaked the Rajarata villages had finally ceased. However, the area between Manampitiya and Gallella on the Polonnaruwa-Batticaloa road was flooded about seven feet high. A bus with passengers was trapped in the middle of the flood. The operation to save the passengers was a story that will not be forgotten for a long time. Two heroes led the operation. They were Mohammed and Fawaz.
At about 2.30a.m., 32-year-old Jawperdeen Mohammed Majid of Gallella in Kaduruwela, Polonnaruwa, was awakened to the horrible news. A bus is marooned with 54 passengers on board.”
Mohammed was with Fawaz, a friend near Ambas Cafe in Gallella. Both were sand miners who had no work at the time due to the rains. “There are a number of small children, pregnant mothers and women,” the man who brought the news told them, panting.
Mohammed who was a father himself felt the plight of the trapped passengers and ran to help with his friend Fawaz. When he went there, he saw many people including the police and the lifesaving teams had already arrived there. But the bus was not to be seen.
“The bus is far from here. A passenger called the police OIC.” a person known to Mohammed told him. Mohammed knew the area and could imagine the place where the bus could have been marooned. He told Fawaz that the passengers were running out of time since the floods were already seven feet high by then and increasing.
“Shall we swim to the bus?” Mohammed proposed.
Fawaz did not reject the dangerous suggestion. Both moved toward the OIC in the darkness. The OIC was quick at brainstorming with his staff about what actions they could take. He was pleased to see the two men offer to help because they knew that they were good swimmers.
The rough currents tried to defeat them but their determination was stronger than the flood. However, it took some time for them to reach the bus. They realized that the situation was worse than they thought as soon as they boarded the bus. Passengers were screaming. The water level had reached the seats in the bus that sat in darkness.
Fawaz called the OIC using a mobile phone of a passenger and they were told to stay put until the police lifesaving team arrived by boat.
Mohammed and Fawaz described what happened thereafter. “The boat arrived soon. We first saved the children, women and pregnant mothers. When the boat was returning for the third trip, it was caught by the current and hit on a Kumbuk tree. A part of the boat was broken. Then the police brought a backhoe and tried to pull the bus out of the water. This too was not successful. An excavator was brought in next and the bus was finally pulled out to safety. A lot of people worked hard to save the lives of others risking their own lives. We are very happy about being able to avoid mishap and save many lives.”
“It could be very difficult without the help of these sand miners. We must appreciate their dedication,” said the Head Quarters Inspector of the Polonnaruwa Police Station, M.S.M. Jarool.