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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mahad Building collapse: Timely warning by two 5th floor residents helped save many lives

“Irfan bhai came and told us that it was unsafe to stay inside and asked us to leave. Many people living in the building owe their life to him,” said one of the residents of the building.

Written by Sagar Rajput | Mahad |
August 26, 2020 3:48:10 am
Mahad Building collapse, rescue efforts, NDRF team, Mumbai news, Indian express newsMehrunissa Kazi was rescued around 26 hours after the building collapsed. (Photo courtesy: Raigad district administration)

The number of fatalities in the Tarique Garden building collapse could have been a lot higher had it not been for the presence of mind shown by residents Irfan Joglikar and Aawez Chichkar, who sensed that something was amiss with the structure and warned others to evacuate the building in Mahad before it collapsed.

Irfan had rented a flat on the fifth floor of the building and moved in 45 days ago. He had just returned from work when he was told by his daughter that the building seemed to be shaking. “I did not believe her initially. However, I started feeling the vibrations too,” said Irfan, who asked his family to head into open grounds.

He then went and knocked on as many apartments as he could, asking people to vacate the structure.

“Irfan bhai came and told us that it was unsafe to stay inside and asked us to leave. Many people living in the building owe their life to him,” said one of the residents of the building.

Aawez Chichkar, who also stayed on the fifth floor in a separate wing, noticed that the building was about to collapse when his refrigerator in the kitchen fell. He, too, went about informing people staying in his wing to leave.

“He ran outside and asked the family members to leave everything and escape. He then ran downstairs, alerting other residents,” said his younger brother Tuaha Chichkar.

The building collapsed three to four minutes after Irfan and Aawez helped evacuate many people. However, not many were able to heed their advice.

Tuaha, who was also trying to help people evacuate, said that many could not make it despite the warnings. “I saw a couple, senior citizens, trying to escape with their grandson. I just picked the child and fled. I managed to save the minor but their grandparents got trapped in the debris,” he added.

Irfan’s neighbour Nameera Asulkar, who was also alerted by him, got trapped in the rubble along with her parents. “Her mother Fatima cannot walk properly, so she waited for her. By the time they could leave the building, it collapsed,” said her cousin Nawaf Gantare.

Nameera was rescued minutes after the collapse. She was rushed to a nearby hospital and was discharged late Monday. “She has lost two teeth and sustained an injury on the face,” said her sister Shagufta, who had a lucky escape as he had gone down to get milk.

However, the family members are yet to tell Nameera that her parents have succumbed. “She is already in shock. We have told her that they have been rescued and they are fine… we fear that something may happen to her if we tell her the truth,” said Nawaf.

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