IT TOOK seconds for 21-year-old Najirul Shaikh to figure out that the building was about to collapse, and he rushed to make a getaway to safety even as the walls came crashing down around him.
Besides Shaikh, one of those who escaped without any injuries, eight other construction workers were involved in the repair work of the building in Kamathipura which collapsed Saturday afternoon. And now, apart from finding another job, Shaikh also has to worry about finding another accommodation, as he was sleeping in the same building for the last couple of days.
“We were inside when we heard a loud sound and saw one of the walls collapse. We heard screams ran out,” he said. Two of his fellow workers, however, could not get out in time and died.
Meanwhile, Mansur Ansari, who worked at a lottery shop on the ground floor, was able to run out in time. “We were having lunch when we realised that the walls were collapsing. We were lucky to have gotten out in time,” said Ansari, who seemed shaken even hours after the incident.
While passersby and people from neighbouring buildings rushed out to see what had happened, 28-year-old Mohammed Nausher was among the first to volunteer to help the people trapped beneath the rubble. “I was on my way back home when the building collapsed. My brother and I were able to pull out four people from under the debris before the fire brigade arrived,” he said.
Neighbours pointed out that the number of casualties could have been higher had the bar on the ground floor been open. A resident of the adjoining building Priya Malagod was walking by the road when the building came crashing down. “I got so scared of the sound of the walls collapsing that I ran as fast as I could with my child in my arms,” she said. Others like Ratna Arjunjale ran out of their buildings out of fear that their building might collapse as well. “The bar has been shut since Monday since the repair work started. Else, more people could have been trapped,” she said.
In total, eight people were trapped under the debris, of whom six died and two survived.