Ignoring a gas leak proved to be a tragic mistake for a family at Jagtap chawl in Chembur (East), after an explosion claimed the life of one member, and critically injured another two. 14 other residents of the chawl also sustained injuries.
20-year-old Poornima Kale has sustained 20 per cent burn injuries and is admitted in the burns ward of Rajawadi hospital
The deceased, 38-year-old Mahesh Jagtap, was declared dead on arrival at the civic-run Rajwadi hospital. His mother, 65-year-old Rukmini has sustained 70 per cent burns and his wife, Jyotsana (35) is also undergoing treatment in the burns ward of th hospital with 40 per cent burns.
The Jagtaps live with another family on the ground floor of a two-storey chawl. According to neighbours, one of them had gone to the Jagtaps’ house 15 minutes before the incident and had warned Rukmini that her house was reeking of gas, but Rukmini did not pay heed.
The chawl came crashing down after the explosion, and many residents were stuck under the debris. Pic/Shadab Khan
Around 6.45 am, a loud explosion was heard, after which, the ceiling of the house came crashing down on the Jagtaps. The family residing on the floor above them, however, managed to escape with minor burns and injuries. Following the blast, neighbours rushed to pull the victims out of the debris, the fire brigade was called in and victims were taken to the Rajawadi hospital.
“We received around 17 people, out of which four had sustained minor injuries and were treated on OPD basis. Rukmini has been shifted to Kasturba hospital for further treatment, and eight people are currently admitted in the general ward and are stable,” informed Dr Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent of the hospital.
Jyotsana Jagtap, who is in a critical condition is in the burns ward. “Another victim, Poornima Kale has also been admitted to the burns ward with 20 per cent burns, but she is in a stable condition. Another man is also in the burns ward,” added Dr Thakur. Recounting the incident, Poornima said, “I remember waking up sometime in the morning and going back to sleep again. Then, there was a heavy explosion around 6.45 am.”
Mahesh, who worked as a computer operator at a private firm, lived with his wife and mother in the one-room house. Neighbours said that after the explosion, they tried to pull him out of the debris, but by the time they managed to do so, he was dead.
“Residents told us they heard a loud explosion and it took them a few minutes to realise that the sound had come from one of the houses. They rushed to remove people from the debris,” said Vinod, a relative of the Jagtaps. “We are still trying to come to terms with this sudden loss. It is heart wrenching to know that he died this way, especially since their relatives live in the same area, barely a stone’s throw away,” he added.
“We received a call around 7.15 am and deputed two fire engines to the spot. By the time we reached, the neighbours had already pulled out a few people from the debris. We rescued around 15 people and rushed them to the hospital. The blast’s intensity was quite high and several people were injured. Further investigations are on in the case,” informed S Nesarikar, the chief fire officer.
According to senior police inspector Bhagwat Sonawane of the Tilak Nagar police station, the cause of the blast was not the gas cylinder, but a leak in the gas line. “Around 6.20 am, another chawl resident, Shantabai Jadhav, went to the Jagtaps’ house and informed them that there was gas leaking in their house and she could smell it.
Rukmini had answered the door but did not pay any heed to her warning. We suspect that someone switched on a light in the house, which may have caused a spark, leading to the explosion.” According to the police, there are many rats in the chawl and one could have chewed off the gas pipe, which resulted in the leak.
“The cylinder was intact when it was retrieved from the house, and therefore, no negligence case has been filed,” Sonawane added.