Bappa reduced casualties

The illegal Somnath building that collapsed at Taljai in Sahakarnagar on Monday could have possibly ended with far more causalities, if it had come crashing down 45 minutes earlier. As luck would have it, 30 children enrolled at a one-room Anganwadi adjoining the Somnath building, had cleared out and gone home when the falling debris severely damaged their tiny school to the ground.

Narrow escape: The Anganwadi for children aged between three and six stood next to Somnath building; (inset) Sayali Kamble at Bharti Hospital

Sayali (4), Namrata (6), Naina (12), Neelam (14) and their parents Laxmi and Nagesh Kamble were living in a small room in the basement of the ill-fated building.

Sayali, Namrata and Naina were at home when it collapsed around them, trapping them under tonnes of debris. The parents and Neelam, who studies in Jijamata Vidyalaya, were out at the time of the collapse.

Fire brigade personnel extracted the three girls from beneath the rubble and while Naina succumbed to her injuries on Monday night, younger sister Sayali is in a serious condition at Bharti Hospital and Namrata’s condition is stable. The state-run Anganwadi functioned as a nursery for children in the age group of three to six.

Residents and teachers claim that the children used to play in the area around the building everyday after they classes got over at 1 pm, but they left early due to ongoing Ganeshotsav. The teachers also had a narrow escape as even they left earlier than usual.

Sayli and Namrata’s teacher Varsha Doke, who is shuttling between the hospital and ground zero, said, “We all had a narrow escape. Reconstructing the school will be the biggest challenge.” Doke added that she left school at 1 pm and received a frantic call from her mother upon reaching home.

“Fortunately all the children went to their respective homes before the incident. Except for the two girls residing in the basement of the collapsed building, no one else from the school was injured,” Doke said. 

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