It took officials over five hours to dig out the survivors from the rubble. Pics/Shadab Khan
It was just a question of a few hours, and the Khans would have moved out of the decrepit building in Behrampada. But fate can be cruelly impatient sometimes. No one knows this better than the Khan clan, who lost five children when the building collapsed, along with another child from the neighbouring house.
The collapsed building was surrounded by illegal structures on all sides, hampering rescue efforts
When the building collapsed last afternoon, all of Bandra East was shaken, but no one felt the pain worse than Khan family. Out of the six confirmed victims of the tragedy, five were children from the Khan family — all under 17. Their father, Nisar Khan, was out working in the family’s workshop, where they manufacture imitation jewellery. Later in the evening, he had planned to shift the entire family to the workshop, as the building had become too old. Residents had already spotted cracks in the structure and planned to have it repaired.
Mourning the death of the kids, their grandfather Abdul Rab said, “The owner was going to repair the structure. Two other families also lived there but they had vacated their houses. But my son, Nisar, had not been able to find alternate accommodation. They were planning to shift the same evening to our workshop in the same area for few days, until he could find another house to live in. Who knew that this would happen in just a few hours?”
House of cards
Anyone who passes by the area has seen the slums in Nurwala Chawl towering over Bandra station, with rooms stacked on top of each other precariously.
This four-storey house of cards came crashing down around 1 pm yesterday, just half an hour after repairs had started. Due to the collapse, the adjacent buildings were also affected.
Jalal Khan and his family lived in one of the adjacent structures but were lucky enough to escape with a few bruises. On the other side, however, tailor Akbar Khan and his family were less fortunate. While the entire family got injured in the mishap, his 12-year-old daughter Ayesha was crushed to death. “Ayesha had gone to the upper floor to get something when the incident took place. My mother, father and brother were in the house, but on the ground floor, so they were survived with injuries,” said Ayesha’s elder brother, Danish Khan, while speaking from the hospital.
A total of 11 people were rescued from the debris and were taken to Bhabha hospital in Bandra West. The rescue operations went on for over five hours and, according to the BMC disaster management cell, the victims arrived at the hospital around 5.25 pm.
Five of them were declared dead on arrival, while one victim succumbed to injuries at the hospital. Disaster management officials suspect another victim may still be trapped in the rubble, but this is yet to be confirmed. At the time of going to press, officials were still in the process of clearing the debris.
Senior fire official involved in the rescue operation told mid-day, “The collapsed house was located far inside the slums and surrounded by four- to five-storey illegal structures on all sides. There was no proper access to the spot.”\
Chief Fire Officer PS Rahangdale also confirmed, “Due to the congested area and narrow passageways, the rescue operation was hampered and we were not able to use heavy machinery to remove the debris.”
The land on which the slum is located falls under Western Railway’s jurisdiction. When mid-day asked the police whether they would launch an investigation into the illegal structures and the collapse, Senior Police Inspector Vasudev Jamdade from the Nirmal Nagar Police station said, “Currently we are focusing on the rescue operation. Investigation will follow subsequently.”
Report by Pallavi Smart, Silky Sharma and Laxman Singh
Aslam Shaikh, Local resident
‘The structure is over 20 years old and it certainly needed some small repairs here and there. But what happened is completely unbelievable.’
Ali Nisar Ahmed Khan (3.5), Osama Nisar Khan (14), Afifa Sadab (1), Abriba Sadaf Nisar Ahmed Khan (2), Rujhda Ahmed Khan (13), Ayesha Akbar Khan (12) from the neighbouring house
Doulat Shaikh (50), Zulfekar Nisar Khan (15), Shakheya Nisar Ahmed Khan (40), Abdul Salam Shaikh(34), Islam Iqbal Shaikh (17)
Officials in the rescue operation, including 10 fire fighters and 30 from the ward office
JCB earth-movers used
NDRF unit on stand by