Roommates and friends of three 'missing' labourers who were working on the Mumbra building that collapsed on Thursday searched for them at the hospitals and the accident site for over 24 hours, only to find that they had gone back to their native place Malda in West Bengal on Friday morning itself.
According to locals, apart from the three, more than 100 daily wage labourers, mostly from West Bengal, who working at various illegal constructions in the Shil Phata belt have returned home following the incident and others are following suit.
Abdur Rehman, a daily wage labourer, who shared a room with some of the labourers in Mumbra, said, "We hail from adjacent villages in West Bengal and are like relatives. Soon after the incident, we learnt that 11 of our roommates had died while 16 had been admitted to hospitals. Three of our roommates were, however, missing. They were neither at the hospital nor rescued from the accident spot."
Finally, on Saturday afternoon, after making enquiries Rehman found that the three, after getting first aid from a doctor, took a train to their native place.
A labourer who did not wish to be identified said, "More than 100 daily wage labourers working at various illegal constructions in the Shil Phata area have fled in trains already and several others have also planned to leave."
He explained that, firstly, the labourers are shaken, as in most of these illegal buildings there are cracks that develop at the construction level itself. They tie bamboos around the cracks and continue working as they have no other option. "However, since this time round the building has collapsed, they are scared."
He added: "Secondly, labourers know that there is going to be a halt on the illegal activities in the area at least for some time. Hence, rather than being unemployed here, they are returning to their villages."