Panic and chaos prevailed around Victoria House in Lower Parel on Monday morning.
“There were about 400 employees working in the offices on the first and second floors when the slab collapsed. Everybody began to run out of the building. Many people had left behind their laptops and other belongings and were waiting for several hours to find them in the debris,” said an employee of JSW Steel Limited, requesting anonymity.
Residents said when they heard a loud noise they suspected it was a bomb blast.
“It was a deafening sound followed by a cloud of smoke that engulfed the building. The windows broke due to the impact and the glasses were thrown off as far as 10 ft away from the building. I thought it was a bomb blast and started running for cover when a colleague told me that the floors inside the building had collapsed,” said Laxman Shankar Londhe, a 40-year-old security guard posted on the rear side of Victoria House.
Rajdhar Pandey, a 45-year-old pan vendor who runs a stall outside the Kamala Mills compound, said, “As soon as I heard the sound, I rushed to the gate of the building. I saw the labourers rushing out, covered with soot. It was absolute chaos. A few other residents and I then arranged a few first-aid kits, cleaned the soot off their bodies and applied the necessary ointments and band-aids till medical help arrived.”
An employee of Fast Train Cargo Limited, which is located in the same building, said, “I was in my office, which is on the other side of Victoria House. As soon as we came to know about the accident, some of us rushed out to help. We rescued two people out of the debris. Fire officials came 10 minutes later.”