Idukki: The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) that suspended a driver for 'risking lives' by driving into floodwater has lauded the crew of another bus that saved a family comprising two children from drowning.
Minister for Transport, Antony Raju hailed conductor Jaison Joseph and driver Thomas KT for their bravery in the face of adversity. The minister posted a video showing a part of the rescue.
Explaining the incident via a Facebook post, minister Raju noted: "A bus from the Erumeli depot that plies along Erumeli-Panchalimedu spotted two children being washed down at Pullupara. Conductor Jaison showed great resolve to bring the two children on board despite the adverse weather. Driver Thomas also joined in as they managed to rescue the children's parents as well."
Driver Thomas said they were happy to have saved a few lives. "It was after the first landslide that our KSRTC bus reached Pullupara," Thomas said.
"When the Fire Force was undertaking the rescue operations, the second landslide happened. There were many buses lined up at the place. When we tried to reverse our bus, another landslide took place. So, we all got stranded for hours. The bus conductor, who was taking pictures at the site, found a person and a child coming along with the gushing stream of water. He rescued them.
"A woman, whose leg was seen stuck on the wheel of a car, was also rescued. All of them were taken to our bus. Till 2 p.m., all the passengers, who got stranded in the area, sat in their vehicles. Later, they were shifted to safer places in the vicinity," said driver Thomas.
Suspended driver reacts
Meanwhile, the driver of another KSRTC bus, who was suspended for 'risking lives' at Poonjar has said that he had in fact saved many lives.
In a Facebook post, Jayadeep Sebastian said that he had not acted thoughtlessly but done what was best under the circumstances.
Jayadeep said in his video message: "Yesterday I was driving from Poonjar to Irattupetta. After dropping off a few people before Poonjar church there was hardly any water on the road. The passengers told me to keep going, so I proceeded. But suddenly, out of nowhere water rushed in as if a big balloon had burst. In that situation, my vehicle's engine stopped. I told them, passengers, not to panic and guided the bus toward the church compound, from where people were rescued."
He further said that it caused him great sadness to learn that he was suspended for saving lives.