Amid confusion over the fate of two missing persons, including a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Thane Disaster Response Force on Thursday called off the search operations in the collapsed Jilani building that went on for more than 80 hours.
While the search has been called off, the body of 30-month-old Museb is yet to be found. The other missing person is 29-year-old Shabnam Mohamed Ali Shaikh.
Jilani building at Patel compound in Thane collapsed at around 3.15 am on Monday and rescue operations went on till 11 am on Thursday. During the 80-hour rescue operation, bodies of 38 residents, including 17 children, were recovered while 25 others were rescued from the debris.
NDRF officials said the last body was recovered around 4.30 pm on Wednesday. “The search for the toddler went on the whole night. One of his family members was made to sit in an excavator and we searched every spot where they suspected the boy could be trapped,” said NDRF deputy commandant Ashish Kumar.
Rescuers even tried to trace him with the help of canines but to no avail. At around 11.25 am on Thursday, NDRF officials consulted the family of Museb following which the rescue operation was brought to an end.
Pankaj Ashiya, commissioner of Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation, said, “After the search operation was called off, the process to clear the debris was carried out. We are hoping to find the toddler.”
Family members of Museb spent the day at the site. “We have been standing here since morning with the hope of seeing our boy one last time,” said his uncle Shakil Qureshi.
The site will now be handed over to Narpoli police who will seal the site to secure the valuables of the victims.
Meanwhile, Arabic teacher Shabnam, who locals claimed was rescued minutes after the collapse, is still missing. Police said an unclaimed body could be of Shabnam. Her family, however, claimed it was not her’s. Nilofer, her sister said, “Police believe a body recovered from the spot and lying unclaimed at IGM hospital is of Shabnam. I am her sister and I am certain it’s not her.”
Family members who spent the day at the police station said locals who knew her and were the first ones to reach the spot had informed them that she was rescued. “Why can’t the police trace her,” said Nilofer, adding, “We looked for her at every place possible, we hope we find her alive.”
Police claimed they are confident the body is that of Shabnam and they will conduct a DNA test. Senior police inspector M Shinde of Narpoli police station said, “We have submitted an application for DNA testing at Kalina forensic laboratory on Thursday and kits are expected to reach us by Friday morning. Accordingly, the DNA samples will be collected and sent for testing.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines