WHILE SEARCH and rescue operations at Pimpri Pada were nearing end on Thursday, about half a kilometre away in Ambedkar Nagar, relatives of 22-year-old Sonali Sakpal continued to look for her by making rounds of hospitals and walking down the hillock settlement destroyed by a 35-feet wall that collapsed early Tuesday.
Sonali, who worked in an imitation jewellery making unit in Malad, had her name tattooed vertically in capital letters on her left forearm. Her cousin Nilesh Sakpal, while walking down the hill in Ambedkar Nagar — turned inside out by a JCB machine that was deployed on Thursday morning — was sure to mention the tattoo to anyone he thought could help locate Sonali.
Sonali also wore a black chain and a blue and white dotted dress to sleep on Monday night.
Just before a wall collapsed at Pimpri Pada and Ambedkar Nagar in Malad East around past midnight, the Sakpal family had filled water from the local tap.
“I had just locked both doors and come to sleep when water poured into our house,” said Sunil Sakpal (40), a labourer. When the wall collapsed and water flooded their hut, Sunil was swept along with his wife Sunita (35) and eldest daughter Sonali.
While he was rescued by local residents, Sunita was found a few metres down the slope. Both suffered minor injuries — Sunita has scratches all over her body, as she hit multiple objects as she fell down.
Son Sachin (21) was trapped under the debris of their hut. “I thought I was alone, then I heard my younger sister Rupali’s cries for help. She was buried under me,” he said. Sachin and Rupali (19) were rescued during the night. Rupali is stable and Sachin has fractured his left shoulder.
Bedridden and helpless in hospital, her parents now ask anyone who visits them about Sonali.
With the whole family hospitalised, extended relatives have taken over the search for Sonali. Her uncle Nathuram Gurav said they have walked the length of slope that ends into a narrow nullah and looked into it to spot her. Locals said several people were found near the nullah where the water emptied after flooding.
Vidya More, Sonali’s friend and co-worker, lived a few huts away but escaped injury when the wall collapsed. “In the last two days, we have looked into the nullah, removed cupboards and tin sheds to spot her dotted dress but she is no where,” she said.
A fire brigade official said the patch around Sonali’s hut has been searched thoroughly on Wednesday. Where the Sakpal home once stood, lies a pile of debris, soil, uprooted trees and muck. “We even scraped through the soil to ensure she is not trapped or buried deep,” the official added.