RANCHI: The traumatic experience of being trapped in a tunnel for days can leave a permamnent scar on the survivor. Take Salim Ansari for instance. He was left stranded inside the Bagdigi coalmine in Dhanbad, which got flooded due to a wall collapse in 2001. Trapped inside without food and water for seven days, he was eventually rescued. Of the 30 caught inside coalmine, he was the lone survivor.
The rest either drowned or were swept away by the water. Ansari could only watch, without being able to help.The experience left such a mark on him that Ansari never went back inside the mine in his five remaining years of service.
Ansari still appears terrfied when he recalls the days in darkness, fearing death all the time. “All of a sudden an explosion took place and people started shouting and runninge. Before I could understand what was going on, water started gushing into the mine. As I was away from others on a slightly elevated place, I somehow managed to place myself on a mound of coal.
But it was painful to see others drown in front of my eyes,” Ansari said. “There was no light and I had to spend seven days and nights without food and water sitting in the same place,” he added. Amid complete silence, without a ray of light, Ansari had lost hope. Finding a way out seemed impossible. But he kept himself alive by drinking the water found inside the mine.
“On the eighth day, I heard some noise and saw some light which became brighter gradually. Realising that a rescue team had arrived, I started shouting for help and they took me out,” said Ansari. “How I felt after sensing that the rescuers were approaching cannot be described. It gave me life.”
Family members said Ansari has not been able to overcome totally and gets disturbed when he hears of similar incidents. “He is reluctant to discuss the incident, as he has not been able to come out of the trauma,” said nephew Aftab Ansari.