Early on Sunday, Geeta Aharwaal (25) noticed cracks on the columns of the under-construction building — where she lived with nine family members — and raised an alarm. A few hours later, the five-storey building collapsed, burying them all under the rubble.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescued eight people, including two children, while a 35-year-old man was declared dead. As of 10 pm, a six-year-old boy was still missing.
“Today, we feared the building would collapse, it looked very risky… and the cracks kept increasing every hour. We decided that we would find a room on rent on Monday, and live there instead. We didn’t want to work today out of fear, but the contractor came and scolded us. I was on the ground floor when it all came crashing down,” said Geeta, who was rushed to the District Combined Hospital in Sanjay Nagar after she was rescued at 4.30 pm.
Next to her in the general ward lay her husband Rajkumar, with bruises all over his body, a bleeding eye, and a neck brace. “We moved here from Damoh district in Madhya Pradesh in May. It’s a very poor area… for a few months every year, we go to Mumbai, Rishikesh, Delhi or Uttar Pradesh as construction workers. We were being paid Rs 300 a day… we have worked in buildings with 20 storeys, but this has never happened. We have lost everything,” he said.
While their son Shiva (8) was taken to Delhi’s GTB Hospital, their younger son Sagar is yet to be rescued. “My children had just returned home with chocolates when the building collapsed… the building’s foundation was so weak, we could tell. But no one bothered,” said Geeta.
Geeta’s mother Vidya (45), rescued a few minutes later, was rushed to Ganesh Hospital in Nehru Nagar. “She has sustained a head injury, and injuries to her hips too. She is stable,” said a medical officer at the hospital.
Those with more severe injuries were taken to east Delhi’s GTB Hospital, including Gulab Rani (42), Shiva (8) and Devender (5).
“All three are admitted in neurosurgery and are stable. But Gulab Rani has a subdural hematoma and subdural haemorrhage… we will evaluate again in the morning,” said Dr Bharat Sagar, chief medical officer, GTB Hospital. Rani’s husband Munna escaped with minor injuries.