For almost 19 hours, he lay under the collapsed five-storey building, trapped in a pocket of air under a fallen pillar. Finally, around 1 pm Tuesday, four-year-old Mohamed Bangi was pulled out of the rubble that was once Tarique Garden — a face of hope for rescuers who had dug out 12 bodies since the building collapsed Monday evening.
But just 30 minutes after the boy, who suffered minor injuries, was carried out by NDRF personnel, the mood at the site in Maharashtra’s Mahad, about 170 km from Mumbai, turned dark. Rescuers had come across the lifeless body of Mohamed’s mother, 32-year-old Naushin. By 5 pm, the bodies of his two sisters — Aisha (6) and Rukaiya (2) — were also found.
According to Mohamed’s uncle Bashir Parkar, the family had moved to their village after the lockdown was imposed but returned “just a few days ago” so that Aisha could pursue her online classes with better Internet connectivity. (Follow Maharashtra Raigad building collapse live updates)
“His father is in Dubai. Naushin returned to Mahad with the children for the birth of Rukaiya in 2018. Here, we were staying on the third floor. After the lockdown, they moved to our village in Mandangad but returned just a few days ago because of poor connectivity there. Naushin didn’t want her daughter’s studies to be affected,” said Parkar, who is married to Naushin’s sister.
Around 9.30 pm, rescuers pulled out another survivor, 70-year-old Mehrunissa Kazi who was fully conscious and communicating in Marathi. Three persons are still missing, said officials.
The video of his rescue operation.
The boy’s mother Nausin Bangi succumbed to injuries, but NDRF and civic authorities are trying to locate his six year old and two year old sisters @IndianExpress @ie_mumbai #mahadbuildingcollapse pic.twitter.com/VwOwWEo9Dc
— Sagar Rajput (@sagarajput24) August 25, 2020
The death toll stood at 13, including Sayyed Samir (45) who suffered a cardiac arrest Monday evening while undergoing treatment for injuries sustained in the collapse.
According to the district administration, the building was less than 10 years old and had 41 flats, an office, a gymnasium and an open hall. “The A wing had 21 flats with 54 people, and the B wing had 20 flats housing 43 persons,” an official said.
“About 70-80 residents escaped as soon as the building started to shake. At the moment, seven persons are being treated in hospitals, of which one was critically injured. Search and rescue operations are still underway,” District Collector Nidhi Choudhari said.
Raigad Police have registered a case against five persons, including the builder, architect, consultant, and two officers of the Mahad Municipal Council for granting an occupation certificate.
The accused have been booked under various IPC sections, including 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 304A (causing death by negligence). “We took suo motu action and lodged an FIR on Tuesday morning. There has been no arrest so far, but we have initiated investigations,” SP Anil Paraskar said.
Maharashtra Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar, who visited the site Tuesday evening, announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to families who lost their loved ones and Rs 50,000 each to those critically injured.
“The construction of the building was very poor. No one will be spared, they will have to face the harshest punishment. As a special case, in Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, we will propose a special package of Rs 3 lakh or Rs 4 lakh per family for those who have been left with nothing,” Wadettiwar said.
At the site, 16-year-old Aadi Shaikhnag’s friends, who survived the collapse, said he managed to come out of the building with his younger brother after the structure started shaking. “But he decided to go back upstairs to save his mother and grandmother. He could not come out,” said one of them.
Mohamed’s uncle Bashir said they got a call at around 7 pm Monday about the collapse. “We were dialling Naushin’s mobile number through the night but could not get through. In the morning, it rang and there was hope that they would all survive,” Mohamed’s grandfather Muhammad Ali said.
“We had cleared a stretch of debris when our personnel found the child in a sitting position,” NDRF officer Alok Kumar said.
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