13-day-old baby saves the day for family trapped in avalanche

Even as a landslide near the old post office at Antop Hill, Wadala claimed two lives and amputated one person yesterday, the Sable family had, what they like to believe, a miraculous escape because of the ‘lucky’ newborn in the house.

The newborn was taken to safety after being rescued from the house
Lucky boy: The newborn was taken to safety after being rescued from the house. After the incident, the survivors were seen shivering in the pouring rain, with no change of clothes. Pic/Atul Kamble

Renuka Sable, who gave birth to a boy about a fortnight ago, went to stay at her maternal home at Antop Hill post the delivery.

Around 7.30 pm on Wednesday, she was in the house feeding her 13-day-old infant, when she heard a loud rumbling thud. All the family members were present in the house at the time.

Within a few moments of the thumping sound, the walls of their house came crumbling down. The entrance was shut off, with piles of boulders landing in front and on top of the gateway. Renuka, her family, and her newly born child had no room left to make a getaway. They were all trapped inside.

“I didn’t understand what was happening or what to do. All I could think of was my baby’s safety. I had to find a way to get out. I was the least bothered about myself. I prayed to god to show us a way to get the baby outside. We began shouting for help,” said Renuka, the urgency of that moment still lingering in her mind, making her voice shake.

It so happened that the divinity heard her pleas for help. “It was something like a miracle that our neighbour Saleem Shaikh heard our cries and came to our rescue. As there was no way to get out, they removed the roof, which was made of asbestos sheets. The first thing I did was hand over my little boy to him. I was more than happy that my baby was safe,” she said, wiping tears.

Survivors stranded
As many as six people were saved by the locals. The rains, however, caused a major hindrance in the rescue process. A huge rock obstructed the work, and was finally removed through the chipping process. Meanwhile, residents claimed they had received a notice to vacate the premises. “But where are we to go?” asked one. After the incident, the survivors were seen shivering in the pouring rain, with no change of clothes. They had lost everything in the furious act of nature.

Fehmida Bano, who lives in the area, said, “We were trapped when the locals came to our rescue. They removed the sheets and pulled us out. But there is nothing that we have left with us. All our belongings are lost in the debris. We are not sure as to how our lives will be after this. We are poor daily wagers who earn after working the whole day. Just putting up a notice doesn’t solve the problem. Where are we supposed to go? We cannot afford the high rent and have no other option other than living here, despite knowing that our life is in danger.”

Chandrashekhar Oak, collector, Mumbai (island city), said, “We are supposed to claim compensation for the victims from the government, depending upon their injuries. I am in Pune for a conference but other officials are present at the site. Once the rescue process is complete, we will ask for compensation.”

The landslide claimed the lives of Sandeep Ramavtar Kewal (23) and Ramavtar Kewal. The only victim rescued, Ejaz Shaikh, has lost both his legs and is currently admitted in Sion Hospital.

Shaikh’s family still remains trapped in the rubble, including two kids aged 2 and 3 along with their mother. He had rented a house just 15 days ago. Rescue operations were still on at the time of going to press. 

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