By: Rohit Alok
Recounting the melee at Yard-701 at the Mumbai Port Trust moments after a gas leak on board the yet-to-be commissioned warship on Friday afternoon, Mazagon Dock Limited employee Aslam Gafar Kazi said he saw a naval officer lying in anguish as others tried to resuscitate him.
Kazi, who was rushed to Prince Aly Khan Hospital in Byculla after he inhaled the leaked carbon dioxide, told The Indian Express, “I was not aware someone died on board, but I did see a person in a Navy uniform lying on the floor in a great deal of pain. There were people pressing his chest.”
Commander Kuntal Wadhwa died in the gas leak that occurred during testing of the stealth destroyer’s fire-fighting equipment.
Lying on a hospital bed with drips attached to his nose and with bloodshot eyes, Kazi said, “I was having lunch with my friends on the ship at about 12.30 pm. Fifteen minutes into our meal, we were alarmed by the gas leak. We quickly packed our lunch and tried to get off the ship.”
“My friends took the correct decision to climb onto the upper deck, whereas I walked right into the part of the ship where the gas had leaked,” he added.
He rued not having presence of mind at the time.
A resident of Malad (East), Kazi said the carbon dioxide unit that malfunctioned was located on the side of the vessel towards the dock.
After the mishap, Kazi was admitted to the ICU of the Byculla hospital at around 2.30 pm on Friday, and is expected to be discharged on Saturday.
“The doctor said he was out of danger and could be discharged tomorrow. He assured me that there is nothing wrong with my husband,” said Kazi’s wife, Sayeena, 46.
Kazi’s colleague, who was at the hospital, said it was fortunate that the incident occurred during the lunch hour else there could have been more casualties.