Mumbai: Ghatkopar 'plane crash galli' turns into a selfie-spot
Mumbaikars line up to take a look at the plane crash site in Ghatkopar even as witnesses reel from disbelief
It was a case of so near and yet not near enough for people at the disaster venue, a day after a plane crash shook the eastern suburb of Ghatkopar. An MTNL building at the mouth of this lane gives it its name — MTNL Galli. But now it has been temporarily rechristened as the 'plane crash galli' by the stream of curious visitors that poured in last afternoon.
A cop at the now-barricaded scene good-naturedly asked people to "get into a line and I will allow you to peek through the barricades. Only one minute per person," he grinned. Overhead, planes seemed to skim the buildings. "One day after the crash, every plane we see sends a jolt of fear through us," said someone, as Kalyan resident Jitendra Jaiswal, who works in Ghatkopar, made his way to the crash site. Jaiswal explained, "I keep coming back here, wondering how this could happen. There is still a sense of disbelief." Shakhawat Khan and Dinesh Yadav, both drivers (the latter drives a rickshaw), said, "The sound keeps echoing in our ears. We were eating snacks at a nearby restaurant and heard at least two-three blasts. The sound literally blew us off our chairs."
Policemen keep curious crowds at bay at the crash site. Pic/Sameer Markande
A resident ambled to the site to see the progress of the clean-up. "I was in the car with my son at the wheel when we heard at least three blasts. Shaken, my son parked the car a few metres from this site. Everything was covered in black smoke. The smell of that smoke still lingers in my nostrils. No disrespect to the dead, but I cannot stop thanking God for sparing me," finished Pravin Shah.
Conversations in Gujarati dominated as one walked down the lane. Ankita Shah who lives nearby said, "I will never forget the thick, black smoke rising into the sky. It's my most enduring memory of this disaster." A number of people who claimed they witnessed the crash, insisted they saw the wing of the plane clip the pedestrian who died. A woman said dramatically, while others concurred, "one second the wing had clipped him and the next a charred body lay on the ground. It was the man," she stressed, while others agreed that they too saw a "wing clip the man. It was a wing," they shouted as some onlookers snorted in disbelief. Through the drama, an idli seller arrived putting down his wares and joining the queue to peer through the barricades. People shouted "idli, idli" while the cops shooed him off.
Mother-daughter duo of Naina (right) and Tanisha Gala point to an aircraft above them. Pics/Sameer Markande
Naina Gala, MTNL lane resident, said, "I witnessed the blast and last night, the terrifying images — burnt bodies, fire, smoke and the wreckage came back to haunt me." Her daughter Tanisha said there were tons of questions from her classmates. Naina added, "I feel the pain of the pilots, the crew. They knew they were going to die, they sacrificed their lives to save all of us." Naina and Tanisha said the fire brigade, police and everyone was at the site within minutes. A local informed this reporter, "The birds in the sky were faster though. There were a huge number circling the crash site within minutes. They had smelt death in the air…" Yet another gent walked down the lane wearing a T-shirt with the prophetic lines: 'Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often'. As one exited the lane, one could not help thinking, this must rate as a very surprising twist in Ghatkopar's story.
No. of people dead in the plane crash
Pravin Shah (left) tells his story
Mumbai: Five killed in Ghatkopar plane crash