Ghatkopar hoarding collapse: 3 brothers and labourers real heroes

17 May,2024 07:06 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Shirish Vaktania

While firemen rescued close to 50 people on one side, this is the story of three sons of police officers, who along with construction workers, saved another 25 lives

(From left) Nutanraj Palve, Pravin Ware and Ashok Ware at the petrol pump in Ghatkopar on Thursday

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While the Mumbai Fire Brigade, National Disaster Response Force and police have been doing an exceptional job rescuing scores trapped under the hoarding in Ghatkopar East, it was the presence of mind of brothers Pravin Ware and Ashok Ware and their cousin Nutanraj Palve that saved 25 lives immediately after all hell broke loose on Monday evening. Garnering the support of 40-50 workers from an under-construction residential project, the trio was able to rescue survivors in just half an hour. The accused, Bhavesh Bhinde, was arrested on Thursday.

After the fire brigade arrived, the trio stayed at the site, providing water, buttermilk and food to survivors and arranging for ambulances. Pics/Atul Kamble

The youths, the sons of retired policemen, reside opposite the
ill-fated Bharat Petroleum pump. Pravin works as an assistant brand manager at a private firm while Ashok runs a two-wheeler showroom and Nutanraj oversees a stamp registration office in the area.

Bhavesh Bhinde

Pravin said, "Around 4.10 pm, I was at home and watching TV when I suddenly heard a loud noise. On opening the window, I saw that a huge hoarding had fallen on the petrol pump. I informed my brothers immediately. We then learnt that people were trapped under the debris. We could only hear cries for help from beneath the hoarding but were unable to do anything. After a few minutes, we decided to take the help of a construction crew working on a project behind the petrol pump."

Scenes from the site of the billboard collapse that left 16 dead in Ghatkopar East, on Thursday. Pics/Atul Kamble

How labourers helped

"We requested all the labourers at the construction to rush to the petrol pump with their equipment, including cutting machines. Around 40-50 of them accompanied us to rescue those trapped under the debris. We tried to gauge the size of the hoarding and how many people were trapped under it," Pravin said, adding, "We first tore off bits from the centre to find many people trapped inside. We then started rescuing the survivors with the help of the labourers, who didn't waste a single second. Later, we decided to remove the people trapped in one of the corners as it would be easier."

Nutanraj said, "First, we tore the banner from the top and sent many labourers inside the hoarding, but we found many layers of patra [metalwork]. We used a bhala [sharp tool] for digging and started breaking the frame of the hoarding. We didn't have sufficient tools to break the iron rods. However, we found that slim labourers could make their way through the frame as if they were going through a tunnel and inform us about the exact locations of the people who were trapped. We formed teams of 10 to rescue survivors. We also went inside and lifted many people out."

When the fire brigade eventually reached the spot, they joined hands with the trio to locate survivors. The youths not only shared all available information with the fire brigade team but also stuck around to provide water, buttermilk and food to survivors. With the help of locals, they also arranged for cars and ambulances to take the injured to the hospital.

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