Mahim building collapse: Locals unite to help rescue operations

Jun 12, 2013, 09:19 IST | Iram Siddique

Staying true to Mumbai's spirit of resilience, help poured in from all quarters on Monday night, lending a hand to fire officials

In the wake of the partial building collapse at Mahim’s Cadell Road on Monday evening that claimed 10 lives and injured six others, many locals came forward to help fire officials in rescue operations. Soon after the incident, eyewitnesses, youths, shopkeepers from the area rushed to the spot, and stayed put till some degree of order had been restored.

Residents of Altaf Mansion who survived rummage through debris looking for their valuables. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Part of Altaf Mansion, a 30-year-old structure, fell apart at 8 pm on Monday. Fire department officials reached the spot around 8.20 pm. They brought ten JCBs and dumpers, with sophisticated equipments and cameras. The incessant rains made it difficult for firemen to carry out rescue operations smoothly. About 50-60 locals gathered within minutes of the incident and formed a human chain to keep onlookers at bay. They also helped firemen remove injured people from under the debris.

Rescue workers can be seen carrying a body out of the debris at the site of the building collapse in Mahim, which claimed 10 lives and injured six others. Pic/Satyajit Desai

“We were trying to ensure that people didn’t block the entry to the spot. We formed a human chain and left an open space through which firemen can get in and go out easily. By 1 am, people were asked to leave, as the fire department officials were carrying out slow demolition, which left the building dangerously unstable,” said a local, who was part of the rescue operations. Fire officials confirmed that aid from locals had helped them move faster and get more people out of the debris.

Anwar Khan, a member of a Mahim ALM said, “Many locals, even teenagers helped in keeping traffic at bay and had cordoned off the area in order to evade accidents. Shopkeepers and doctors rushed to the spot and offered help, even before the authorities came in.”

We could never imagine something like this would happen, as the building looked absolutely fine from outside. I heard a loud sound and rushed to the spot. I saw people hanging from rods that were still intact after the collapse. We first rescued people from the top floor as it was easier to get them out of the rubble. - Azim Kirkire, a florist who owns a shop near Mahim Durgah

We helped a lady from the Lakha family, who lived on the first floor, to get out of the debris. She was stuck in the rubble and screaming for help. However, the rains interrupted rescue work, even for the fire officials. It gives us great relief to know that she is safe now. - Nazamuddin Kirkire, Azim’s brother, who was also present at his flower shop

I heard a loud noise when I was serving tea to my customers and I immediately rushed there. It was chaotic and we couldn’t recognise anyone. As all of them belong to well-to-do families, we haven’t ever interacted with them, but in such a situation they needed our help. I had to keep my tea stall shut on Tuesday. - Akbar Shaikh, a tea stall owner near Mahim Durgah

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