Taxi driver Satish Kshetre was relaxing with his guests in his room in a Naik Nagar Society building in the suburbs of Kurla when he suddenly felt that an earthquake had struck and as soon as he realized that the adjacent wing of his building had collapsed, the first thought that came to his mind was to save his relatives and guests.
When the communal stairs on the east and west sides of the affected D wing also collapsed, Mr. Kshetre, a resident of the third floor of the west side, prepared a rope with sarees and rescued all ten people, including his relatives and some guests who visit him, with the help of local people.
At least 14 people were killed and 13 others injured after the four-story building collapsed around midnight Monday, municipal officials said Tuesday.
All four floors in the eastern part of Building D in the Naik Nagar Coop Housing Society were wedged in the crash. On the west side, the ground and first floors were affected while the other three floors remained intact. “For a moment I thought we wouldn’t survive, but by the grace of God we are still alive,” Kshetre told PTI.
He remembered the horror of the night and said it was like an earthquake.
“The whole building (D-wing) shook and immediately the adjacent eastern part collapsed with a loud, deafening noise,” he said.
Mr Kshetre said at least 10 people, including his relatives and five guests, were in his room at the time of the incident, which happened around 11:40 p.m. Monday. Some of them were already in bed, while others were awake, he said.
“For a moment I went numb. But after a few moments I gathered some courage to save myself and my relatives,” he added.
Satish Kshetre said the common staircase of the D building had collapsed.
“I made a rope with sarees and rescued all ten people in my room safely with the help of local people,” he said, adding that people trapped on the fourth floor were also rescued in the same way.
The 27-year-old who drives an app-based taxi said he would be moving to another rental property on Tuesday due to the dilapidated state of the Naik Nagar Society building.
Mr Kshetre said each floor of the affected building had four flats, two on the east side and two on the west side.
He said most of the society’s residents are tenants, but some rooms are unoccupied.
Kshetre said a family of three had come to stay in the affected building just two days ago, but they were trapped under the ruble.
Devraj Badiya, a resident of Kurla, anxiously awaited the news of his younger brother Ramesh’s whereabouts as he waited on the road in front of the stricken building.
However, the anxious wait turned to despair when Ramesh was pulled dead from the rubble.
Devraj said that Ramesh had moved to the affected building just two days ago because the building where we were staying was in bad shape.
“My brother has moved to the dilapidated building because of the urgency for home,” he added, sobbing.
Earlier in the day, the Badiya family asked rescuers to locate Ramesh under the collapsed stairs. Ramesh’s son had told them that the first one was trapped under the stairs.
Three members of the Badiya family had transferred to the Naik Nagar Society a few days ago.
Devraj said one member of the family died while two others were rescued earlier in the day.
Rahul Ramteke, a grade 12 student who lived in a neighboring slum, watched in horror as the four-story building collapsed with great noise and the water tank on the terrace fell onto the road and crashed into the composite wall.
“Some people from the third floor of the building were screaming for help when the building collapsed,” recalls Ramteke, who was checking his cell phone at the time of the incident.
Ashok Rajguru, a conductor in BEST company, told PTI he was in bed when he heard a loud noise.
“As he ran outside, he saw a thick cloud of dust build up around the collapsed building,” he said, adding that there was chaos as power to the building was disconnected.
NDRF’s deputy commander Ashish Kumar told PTI that more than 100 NDRF personnel were involved in the rescue operations.
“Three of our dogs are also on the scene to locate survivors,” Kumar said, adding that the rain delayed operations.
“Our teams had rescued three people alive from the rubble until 10:30 am,” he said.
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