Local residents pulled out two little sisters, arms wrapping each other, a four-year-old boy clinging to his father, a 17-month-old girl from a pit filled with water and another 12-month-old baby after a dog sniffed her from debris. All dead. At least 10 children were among the 22 dead when a wall collapsed in Kurar village in Malad around Monday midnight.
For sexagenarian Satyabama Pawar, who lost two and kept searching for three others in her family, it was a long Monday night. At 2 am she carried a dead grandson, Parshuram (3), in her arms to hospital in an auto-rickshaw and then on foot when the rickshaw broke down due to flooding, taking two hours. “His body had turned cold. Doctors said he died long ago,” she cried.
Satyabama’s hut, made of tarpaulin, bamboo and tin shed, is one of the closest to the wall that separates the hutments from the forest beyond in Malad. When the incident occurred she was sleeping. “Suddenly our hut was swept away in water. I managed to run out and started looking for my daughter’s family,” she said.
Her daughter Rani, a domestic help, and two grand-daughters Sanchita (15) and Deepa (12) remained trapped in debris. Parshuram was found by local residents at 2 am, his father Laxman Nanaware by his side. “Parshuram would never eat without his father. Yesterday night when they slept he held his father’s hand. They were found together, perhaps Laxman never left his hold on him,” she said.
She took an unconscious Parshuram in arms, hailed an auto-rickshaw and drove till Goregaon where the rickshaw broke down in the flooded roads. From there she walked for 20 minutes before finding another rickshaw near Jogeshwari. An on-duty doctor in HBT Jogeshwari Trauma Care hospital declared the three-year-old dead. Sometime later Satyabama was told her son-in-law Laxman, a carpenter, was also dead.
By Tuesday afternoon, Rani’s body was recovered. Reshma Santosh, a relative, said they could hear Sanchita pleading for water from under debris.
“We could not reach her for hours. Police and fire brigade came much later. Most people were pulled out by local residents during night,” she said.
She was given oxygen support even as she lay trapped in debris. She, however, died before she could be rescued. Deepa too was found dead.
Some lost their entire families. “Sailab jaisa pani tha. Kuch kar hi nahi paye,” said mechanic Rajbahadur Patel (30) who lost 12-month-old daughter Salvi and wife Munnidevi (28).
The family had returned from Jaunpur last week. At 11.30 pm, Monday, they finished dinner, locked the door from inside and went to sleep. In his hut, the still packed suitcase came rolling down first, then the shanty shook and the plastic roof came crashing down. There was Rs 7,000 cash in the hut, a new mobile phone, all lost.
Patel scrambled out and through the night kept pulling people out. “We didn’t know who was dead or alive,” he said. Around 7 am, a disaster relief force sniffer dog located his daughter. She was about to turn one in July.
Patel had just a red lungi on him, he borrowed a black shirt and umbrella from a friend and reached Jogeshwari hospital, where both his wife and daughter were declared dead.
Eleven km away, in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Kandivali Shatabdi hospital, lay Shanta Pethare. Her five-year-old daughter Seema had died, two-year-old Pari and husband Rahul were admitted in another hospital in serious condition.
Seema had wrapped herself around younger sister Pari when the wall collapsed and water swept them away. An hour later both sisters were found. While Pari survived with a head injury, buried in the arms of Seema, Seema was found dead with her nose bleeding. “I saw them getting swept together. My leg was stuck in a utensil stand. I could not move,” said their grandmother. An hour later, she was rescued along with Shanti and Rahul. The sisters were found in debris a few metres away.
Janhvi Kanojia’s body lay wrapped in white cloth in Bhagwati morgue. “Every day after work we would come to play with her. She was always laughing,” said Shivam Goswami. Perhaps, that was why several attempted to save her braving multiple wounds. Janhvi was on father Anil Kanojia’s lap when the wall collapsed.
It all happened within 10 minutes. Men came rushing towards the pit, pulled her body out, but water had entered her lungs. Anil says he hailed an auto-rickshaw and went to two private hospitals, Hayyat Multispecialty and Sanjeevani, where doctors said the baby was “too critical to treat”. He reached Kandivali Shatabdi hospital by 2.30 am. The doctor said she was dead