Thirteen-year-old Nitin lay curled up in a bed at GTB Hospital and asked only one question: “Is Krishna okay?” Siblings Nitin, Krishna and Uma were in the same classroom when a freshly built roof collapsed, killing four minors and a teacher. While Uma and Nitin escaped with head injuries, Krishna did not make it.
Lakshmi, Krishna’s mother, sat at the steps of the hospital: “I still cannot believe what happened. My three children were studying in the same class for months. Why did they have to hold a class when the roof had just been built?” Krishna’s father, a labourer, hails from Aligarh.
Locals who helped with the rescue operations said children were identified through their clothes and limbs from under the debris. “The sound was like a bomb blast. As the dust settled, we could see pieces of cloth and began pulling out the children. We saw a child’s leg and dragged him to safety. The teacher was the last to be found. All were very scared,” said Faizal Khan, a local.
Injured in the collapse was Sujata Tiwari (23), a teacher who had earlier attended tuitions in the same centre. “Its a miracle she survived with just a back injury. She was standing when a portion of the roof collapsed on her,” said a relative.
Locals said the tuition centre, running illegally, catered to several students in the locality.
The deceased were identified as Farhan (6), Deshu (14), Krishna (12), Kirti (10) and their teacher, Umesh Kashyap (30).
Farhan’s father Arif Sultan said, “My daughter informed me that my son was trapped under the rubble. I went to the spot and tried to find him with the firemen. His mother and sister were outside the building, crying. It took me an hour to find him — I recognised him by his school bag. I ran to the ambulance, but by the time it reached the hospital, he was declared dead on arrival.” Arif is a tailor who lives nearby.
Umesh’s family, who lives across the street, was stunned to see the building collapse. “Umesh and his elder brother Shankar started the coaching centre around 10-15 years ago. We didn’t support them earlier, but they eventually started earning enough to support the family. The rooms would be filled with students. Most of the children from our locality studied here. They had recently bought the new building to build a coaching centre for school and college students,” said Umesh’s mother.
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