A building collapse in Mumbai last week killed 61 and left 31 injured, the latter rescued over a 48-hour operation.
Sharvari Patwa and Tabassum Barnagarwala speak to survivors of eight of the families it shattered.
Rescued: Naresh and Anuja Sawant,
and their son Megh, 8
Lost: Daughter Tejal, 15
Cooped up for 16 hours in one corner of an 180-sq foot room, debris falling around in heaps, they lost their daughter but not hope, thanks to their eight-year-old son who kept encouraging them. “The darkness was frightening and we were gasping for breath, but Megh gave me hope,” says Naresh Sawant, who survived with his wife Anuja and Megh. “The three of us ran to shelter in the corner but my daughter Tejal could not as a slab fell on her.” Tejal was 15.
Megh kept talking to his parents. “I knew I should not start crying as I am a very strong boy,” he says. “I knew we would be pulled out and we should not lose hope.”
“All we had was one another,” says Naresh. “I kept calling everyone to check if they were all right but my daughter did not respond. I knew she had not made it.”
Megh knew too but did not cry and kept up the chatter, says his uncle Ravi who is looking after him while his parents are admitted to hospital. “Towards the end of the day, we were fearing a slab would collapse on us anytime, but then we heard digging and realised a rescue team was here. We shouted to them,” says Naresh. Ravi says, “When he was rescued, Megh saluted the fire brigade and disaster relief personnel.”
Naresh, who works in a private firm, lived with his family at the BMC staff quarters. All his colleagues died. Naresh, his wife and son were pulled out around 10 pm.
Anuja, who has uttered barely a word since losing her daughter, is undergoing treatment for multiple abrasions over both arms and legs, while Naresh has fractures in the right hand and under the right eyebrow. Megh is in Class III at a Marathi-medium school in the neighbourhood.
WAITING FOR MOTHER