BIMAL Sharma had come to Pune from Bihar’s Katihar district about 15 years ago in search of livelihood. A few years later, he had brought several others from his village, including his younger brother, to work in the city as construction labourers. On Sunday, he will travel with the bodies of over a dozen of them back home.
On Friday night, Sharma and 17 others had retired to their tin shelters adjacent to Alcon Stylus housing society’s compound wall. They were asleep when the 150-foot wall collapsed over them.
“I thought the entire building had come down. I couldn’t see anything, but could hear only muffled voices… some were crying, a few others were shouting for help. I wanted to shout out too, but couldn’t find my voice,” Sharma, who works as a carpenter at the construction site, said.
Sharma said his torso and limbs were all under debris, but luckily there were no injuries on his head. A tree trunk, he said, had blocked the sliding stones and soil from falling on his head.
“I kept lying there for around 10-15 minutes before some labourers from the other side of the compound and a few residents of the adjacent housing societies reached the spot and started looking for survivors. I somehow managed to shout for help and was finally rescued,” he said.
Ravi Goyal, a resident of Euphoria society adjacent to Alcon Stylus, was about to go to sleep when the sound of a loud crash outside made him rush towards the balcony.
“In the dark, I could see that the compound wall of adjacent Alcon Stylus housing society had collapsed on the tin shanties occupied by some construction labourers. The shanties looked completely smothered,” said Goyal, an entrepreneur.
He rushed to the accident site immediately with his roommate to rescue people.
“We saw that cars and a school van, which were parked near the compound wall, had slid down in the crevasse. We tied one of the cars with ropes so that it did not slid off and crash on the shanties below,” Goyal, added.
Vaibhav Singh, another resident of Euphoria who had also rushed out to help, said the muffled cries of help had filled up the air. “It was horrifying… We found a person stuck underneath a tree. He was almost unscathed and we managed to pull him out immediately,” Singh said.
A fire brigade team, which had reached the accident site in some time, extricated the survivors stuck under the debris one by one. Along with an NDRF team, the firefighters managed to rescue all the men and pull out the bodies of all the 15 men killed in the accident by 11 am on Saturday.
Prakash Gore, fire officer, Kondhwa said: “Looking at the magnitude of the incident, our team, which had initially reached the spot, asked for additional help from the fire office. As the road is very narrow, there was some problem in reaching the site. Even before the NDRF team could reach, we had extricated half-a-dozen bodies from the debris.”