How death conspired to corner Mumbra building residents

Sep 23, 2013, 00:52 IST | Iram Siddique

While one had safely escaped the falling edifice but decided to go back in for his passport, the other rushed into the quaking structure from another building to lock his house

In the debris, left behind after Saturday’s building collapse in Mumbra, are buried hopes of the families that resided in what was once Banoo building. By the time rescue operations were wrapped up, the death toll had risen to three, the devastation manifold. 

Haneef Quazi with wife Sameera and their daughter

From the rubble emerged many tales of those who didn’t survive, and those made homeless in the blink of an eye, left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

An official from Mumbra police station present at the site said, “The work of clearing the rubble is on and it will take us another day. Officials from Thane Municipal Corporation are making a list of the belongings as we come across them. The personal effects have been handed over to the locals. They are distributing it to the occupants concerned, as and when they come asking for them. The debris has been dumped near Mumbra station.”

Passport to death
The most moving story is that of Haneef Quazi, who worked as a welder in Saudi and had come home two months ago to spend time with his wife Sameera and their three-year-old daughter. Though they had a place in Sewri, they were staying in Mumbra at Sameera’s maternal home since the Sewri place was undergoing renovation.

Picking up the pieces: Officials from Thane Municipal Corporation are making a list of the belongings and distributing them to the inhabitants

Haneef was about to return to the Middle East to get back to work, waiting for his visa which was to arrive on Monday. But his plan was torn asunder, with death trapping him unawares. On the day, Haneef, ironically, escaped the falling building unhurt, but went back inside along with his wife for his passport.

“He went inside the building to get his passport and was trapped. He died of suffocation,” said Ramzaan Malim, Quazi’s brother-in law. “My sister Sameera has sustained multiple injuries and the doctors have told us to shift her from Kalsekar Hospital as it doesn’t have the specialist she needs.”

After Quazi’s last rites, Ramzaan had come to the spot in search of the Sewri property’s papers.

Among the four people inside at the time the structure caved in, Sameera was the only one to survive. The rest of the occupants had rushed out when fatal cracks appeared on the edifice minutes before the fall at 7.30 in the morning.

Family loses two sons
Just like Haneef Quazi, Javed Qureshi died in the collapse and left behind a wife, whom he married last October. She is expecting their first child.

Javed, who lived with his parents and wife in Banoo building, had gone to sleep in a building adjacent to it. On the morning of Saturday, when he saw the crowds rushing out of his building and realised that it might collapse, he decided to venture in to lock his house, despite resistance from his family members.

The moment he reached his second-floor apartment, the building gave way. A day later, on Sunday morning, his body was removed from the debris.

“His wife is in a state of shock. Hardly any time has passed since they got married and now she is a widow. She had not shed a tear since the incident but after seeing her husband’s body, she was completely shattered,” said Fauzia Qureshi, Javed’s sister.

Javed’s elder brother Moin also died in the collapse. His body was removed from the debris last morning.

The Qureshi family was planning the wedding of the family’s youngest son, Tauseef, and a date had been set for coming Wednesday. The family said they were grateful the guests had not arrived.

Another one bites the dust

Even as people at Banoo building in Mumbra reel from the horror of their homes collapsing, another building collapsed yesterday. The MSEB office opposite Kashish Park, Wagle Road at Thane (West) collapsed.

Fortunately, there were no injuries or casualties as the structure had been evacuated hours ago. Pics/Sameer Markande

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