The family of Sonali Sakpal (22), who was missing for five days after a wall collapsed in Kurar village in Malad, cremated her on Monday, a day after her body was found near Versova beach and identified by Kurar police.
Sonali was swept away by rainwater after a 35-ft wall collapsed in Ambedkar Nagar in Malad (East) and washed away hundreds of shanties on July 2, when Malad received an average rainfall of over 450 mm.
The police believe her body was swept into a nullah that flows east to west in the western suburbs, passing through Ambedkar Nagar, Goregaon and Oshiwara, and then emptying into the Arabian Sea at Malad creek. Her body was then swept southwards and found off a beach near Seven Bungalows, about 20 km from her home in Ambedkar Nagar.
Udaykumar Rajeshirke, senior inspector at Kurar police station, said they received information at 8 pm on Sunday about an unknown body having washed ashore near Versova beach. The body had Sonali tattooed on left forearm. While the body was found on July 6 and immediately sent to Dr RN Cooper Hospital, the Kurar police and Versova police got in touch only on Sunday. “I sent my constable to confirm. We had shared her photo with our team. She was identified by the constable,” said Rajshirke.
A Versova police station officer said the body was found on the morning of July 6. “We saw the name tattooed and started questioning locals. Nobody by the name Sonali was missing in the vicinity. We then checked missing persons records and found that a girl named Sonali had gone missing after the Kurar mishap. Had the name not been tattooed, identification would have been difficult,” the official who found her body said.
According to a forensic expert, Sonali did not suffer any traumatic injury when the debris fell on her hut and washed it down. “There are signs of drowning. The body was in advanced decomposed stage by the time it reached us,” the forensic expert said.
At least 132 others were injured when the wall collapsed on the slums. Over 60 continue to remain admitted across five municipal hospitals.
Sonali’s father Sunil Sakpal, who was discharged from hospital on Sunday, was informed by police late on Sunday night about the body.“My father had taken discharge yesterday to look for her. I don’t know how her body was found on the beach. Why no one looked in the nullah earlier,” questioned Sachin, Sonali’s brother. Sonali’s friend Vidya More said her final rites were held in Malad on Monday afternoon.
For the last six days Mumbai Fire Brigade was searching for her in the debris of Ambedkar Nagar where her hut was located. Locals had also searched a stretch of nullah assuming her body was washed down by water. Several injured were also found by the sides of the nullah and rushed to hospital when the wall collapsed.”But we had found nothing in the nullah,” Vidya said. With Saloni’s death, the toll in Kurar incident has touched 28.
Sonali worked in an imitation jewellery making unit in Malad. When the wall collapsed and water flooded their hut, Sonali was swept with father Sunil and mother Sunita (35).
Sunil was rescued by locals and wife Sunita was found a few metres down the slope. Both showed signs of drowning and suffered minor injuries. Son Sachin (21) was trapped under the debris of their own hut with younger sister Rupali. All four were admitted in Kandivali Shatabdi hospital