In Bihar, three friends rescued 40 with the help of a rope and a saree when flood water inundated their village
On the intertwining night of July 13 and 14, at around 12 30 am, villagers living in Naruar village came face to face with death when the western embankment of Kamla Balan breached under pressure from the rising flood waters. The catastrophe hit them so suddenly that they didn’t get time to escape or even think. They had lost all hope of survival until three youngsters -- Rakesh Mandal, Sunil Mandal and Ankur Mandal, aged between 20 and 22 -- voluntarily swung into action and began rescuing people with the help of a saree and a rope
Not all heroes wear capes. Ask villagers living in Naruar village in Jhanjharpur block in Madhubani district in Bihar and they will swear by this.
On the intertwining night of July 13 and 14, at around 12 30 am, they came face to face with death when the western embankment of Kamla Balan breached under pressure from the rising flood waters and inundated the village, washing away everything that came in its way, including the cement and brick structures -- their homes.
The catastrophe hit them so suddenly that they didn't get time to escape or even think. They had lost all hope of survival until three youngsters -- Rakesh Mandal, Sunil Mandal and Ankur Mandal, aged between 20 and 22 -- voluntarily swung into action and began rescuing people with the help of a saree and a rope.
By the time dawn broke, they had rescued 40 villagers.
The village is still cut off
When Gaon Connection reporters visited Naruar village to know what transpired that night, they met Vinod Mandal, 55, who said: "The water entered our village so suddenly and with so much force that entire concrete houses got washed away."
Magan, 32, who also lives in the same village, said: "My family members survived because of these three boys."
These villagers have moved to a relief camp and the village is still cut off. The reporters had to wade through waist-deep water to reach the exact spot where the disaster struck.
There used to more than 40 houses in this village. Only 4-5 have managed to withstand nature's fury. The rope and saree that the boys used to rescue people, was still hanging there, a grim reminder of that night.
We climbed atop the terrace. Rakesh Mandal, one of the three boys who rescued people that night, said: "For miles you will see only water. I had a 11-room house somewhere there. Now it does not exist."
"I saw many houses collapsing"
Rakesh, a final year B-Com student, who aspires to join the army, narrated what happened that night.
"My mother and grandmother had dinner at around 11. Just then people started screaming that the embankment had broken. Even before we could think anything, ground floor of our house was submerged in water. We rushed to the terrace after one side of our house collapsed. The house on my right got washed away in from of my eyes. Just then I thought that we should at least make an attempt to save ourselves," he said.
He took his mother's saree, tied it to a rope and threw it onto the neighbouring terrace. "With the help of this rope I went to the neighbour's terrace and tied it tightly. It was petrifying to look at the strong current, but I didn't have any option."
Rakesh managed to save his mother, but the house collapsed and he couldn't save his grand-mother. He thought he lost his grand-mother, but she was found at a school nearby the next day.
"The house where my mother and I were standing started collapsing too so with the help of that rope, we went to the next house. Many villagers were stranded here. That's when my friends Ankur and Sunil thought that we must rescue all of them," added Rakesh.
Both Ankur and Sunil are preparing for CA Inter and together all three of them saved 40 villagers.
"I came to know about it at 10. The water was gushing towards us with full speed. I came and informed everyone. We took our cattle to the terrace. But soon my house started collapsing. With the help of Rakesh, we went to the terrace of the house where many people were stuck. With the help of the rope and the saree we took all of them to a house which was newly-constructed and hence relatively strong," said Ankur.
The incident has scarred them for life.
Ankur said, "An elderly lady lived in a house close by. I went to help her, but she refused to come with me. Her husband could not climb the stairs and he died. His body was recovered the next day. The lady managed to survive as one side of her house didn't collapse. She was rescued by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team the next afternoon."
Though villagers have lost everything, they are profusely thanking these three boys for saving their lives. Guddu, a villager, who was in Delhi that night said: "When I came to know about the incident, I started called the NDRF team for help. I could not get in touch with them and even they managed to reach only the next day. My house is gone, but thanks to these boys, my family members are alive."
Read this story in Hindi: बिहार: बाढ़ की त्रासदी के बीच फरिश्ता बन गये ये तीन युवा, बचाई 40 से ज्यादा लोगों की जान