The narrow lanes leading up to the Jilani building in Bhiwandi caused a major hindrance to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team’s rescue operations as they could not carry heavy equipment to the spot.
“On reaching the spot, we realised the lanes leading to the site were narrow and dumpers, which are used to dispose of the debris, could not be brought in. That is why it is taking us more time in the rescue efforts,” said Ashish Kumar, deputy commandant of NDRF, who was leading the team.
A joint operation by local residents, NDRF, Thane Disaster Rescue Force and the Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation helped in rescuing at least 20 people trapped under the debris after a portion of the Jilani building collapsed early on Monday.
Civic officials said they managed to bring one JCB to the spot, but after they heard people’s alarm for help from inside the debris, they decided to conduct the operation manually.
“We were aware that we may harm people if we use JCB, so we started clearing the debris by picking up bricks and slabs of concrete one by one. Local residents also lend a helping hand,” said Kumar.
A local resident Anees Ansari said, “One of my distant relatives who stayed in the building got stuck in the debris. I was informed about the incident soon after the building collapsed in the morning… We were successful in rescuing 10 people.”
While NDRF officials rescued nine people, they said there was a strong smell of gas at the collapse site due to which they decided not to use any machinery. “We fear that using such machinery may cause fire, so we restricted ourselves from using them. That is why it is taking so much time in clearing the debris and rescuing people,” Kumar added.
Another challenge for NDRF officials was a major portion of a slab, which they feared might come crashing during the rescue operation.
“We first arranged around 70 wooden planks to support the structure, after which we started our rescue operation,” said Kumar.
Commissioner of Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation Pankaj Aashiya said, “Initially we got one JCB to the spot, but we soon realised that we could not use it. So, we were carrying out the rescue operation under the guidance of NDRF, which holds expertise.”
The NDRF team also made use of victim-locating cameras and canines to locate those trapped under the debris.
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