“My siblings and I shared a room in our apartment. We were fast asleep when I was jolted awake as the ceiling fan landed right on top of me. The next thing we knew, we were sprayed with shards of glass from the TV after which we ran for our lives,” said Neha Iqbal Shaikh, one of the survivors of the building collapse in Mumbra yesterday.
Neha and her brothers watched as the 3-storey Smruti building came crumbling down like a pack of cards in the minutes that followed.
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“We had bought jewellery and other valuables after my marriage was fixed this month. Everything is gone now,” added a teary-eyed Neha.
Speculating on the reason behind the collapse, Neha said, “A year back, BMC demolished a neighbouring structure called Merchant Building. When that work was going on, we used to feel the tremors as our building shook.”
Apparently, the ground behind the building was being levelled with road-rollers and bulldozers. “This work went on for over eight months due to which our building used to vibrate,” said another resident, Shenaz Iqbal Shaikh.
Shenaz had a narrow escape from the clutches of death after a huge slab landed on her leg.
“As we stayed on the second floor, it got difficult for us to rush out of the crumbling building in that limited time. Not only was it dark, it was also frightening. The entire time we were panic-stricken that something would fall on us. That very moment a giant slab fell on my leg which will now have to be operated.”
Resident Saleha Iftikhar Faki said, “At first, we felt like there was an earthquake. We tried to open the main door to our apartment but it was jammed. A portion of the wall had broken down in the hall so we were pulled out from the opening. But my sister’s two-month-old baby died in the chaos,” said Saleha, who was brought to the hospital with a bleeding nose and fractured hand.
“My son Nadim’s leg got fractured. But by God’s grace, it was not a major injury as most of the rubble first fell on top of the cupboard and showcase,” said Iftikhar Faki.
His daughter Lubna Mudassar Panjabi is in bad shape. Doctors at Kalsekar Hospital -- where the injured were rushed -- said one of her limbs was totally crushed and she had lost a lot of blood. Since she will require a major surgery, she was shifted to Mukhi Hospital in Mulund. According to sources at the facility, Lubna’s left leg would have to be amputated.
Yasmin Salauddin Lala, an occupant of the building, said, “My husband realised that the building was shaking and awoke me and our son. They immediately rushed out of the building, but I went to alert our neighbours. That’s when all the rubble fell on me. I was trapped in the debris for over an hour, after which the fire brigade rescued me.”
The administration of Kalsekar Hospital said that all the patients would receive financial aid as the hospital is run by a charitable trust. “Currently our main goal is to save the patients. We haven’t thought about the payment of fees. Our parent trust Alham Hospitals and Medical Research Trust has instructed us to carry out all the treatment necessary for the patients. All the necessities will be provided by them. Today we will be operating on two or three patients depending on their fitness,” said Dr Numan Tungekar, administrative officer, Kalsekar Hospital.
A friend of one of the victims being treated at the hospital, however, had a different story to tell. “My friend Farhan rescued four to five people from the building. He was going to save the 2-month-old girl but could not as the left part of his body got stuck under a cement slab. His left palm and forehand are badly damaged.
Doctors said there are only 50-50 chances of treating it, or else it will have to be amputated. As of now we have paid Rs 20,000 and we have been told to give Rs 60,000 for the operation,” said Shaikh Tanzeel, who brought Farhan Dilawar Waghu to the hospital.
Refuting their allegations, a hospital official on the condition of anonymity said, “Farhan’s friends have been creating problems for the hospital from the start. Their allegations about the payment are false. I ordered an inquiry into this issue and found out that they made an initial payment of Rs 10,000. This is only for the medicines that will have to be bought from outside, and not the hospital fees.”
Thirteen victims of the building collapse incident were taken to Kalsekar Hospital. Among them was two-months-old Mehek Mudassar Panjabi, who was declared dead on arrival.
Three people were discharged after treatment for minor injuries. Of them, two were male and one female. Iftikhar Faki (54), Naser Hussain Quadri (26) and Shabnam Iftikhar Faki (21) were lucky enough to be discharged after being administered care at the hospital’s out-patient department.
The remaining nine victims sustained multiple injuries and fractures. They are: Raju Vasant (19), Shenaz Iqbal Shaikh (45), Farhan Dilawar Waghu (35), Lubna Mudassar Panjabi (25), Yasmin Salauddin Lala (50), Neha Iqbal Shaikh (17), Nadim Iftikhar
Faki (17), Zamerul Fatima Razi Quadri (27) and Saleha Iftikhar Faki (27).