The rescue operation mounted at Shital Fibers factory building collapse site came to an end in the wee hours on Tuesday with a declaration about no victim remaining under the debris.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) 7th Battalion Commandant RK Verma termed the operation the 'most difficult task with excellent rate of success" and said that it was one of its type rescue operation in Punjab.
"We found it was just like the situation after an earthquake, when we reached the spot. Within no time, we chalked out the strategy and started rescue operation within minutes of reaching the spot," Verma told Hindustan Times, adding that since the building collapsed on April 15 in a pancake shape, it was difficult to enter the debris from any direction.
He recalled that as soon as he got a call from the deputy commissioner, he dispatched a team comprising 45 sleuths immediately, which reached the site at around 6am on April 16. After assessing the situation, two more teams were sent for the rescue operation.
"Two teams, one each to deal with flood and another for earthquake is always kept ready with a truckload of equipment as per the situation," the commandant said.
Although the NDRF team was equipped with electric and gas cutters, these were not used in the beginning since it could cause fire in the debris, comprising highly inflammable materials like chemicals and blankets. Verma said that some civil officials using electric cutters were stopped from doing so by the NDRF team.
The operation was conducted in close coordination with the army, district administration and other volunteers, including those from Dera Sacha Sauda of Sirsa, he said.
"The entire rescue operation was a hectic and difficult experience and it will definitely help the force to deal with such situations in future," he said and added that the NDRF was happy to save 12 lives and evacuate the bodies of 19 deceased, who were trapped under the debris.
Later, deputy commissioner Priyank Bharti hosted a tea party for the NDRF team and lauded their role. "I will definitely recommend honour for the NDRF team to the chief minister, so that their excellent work could be recognised by the state government," the DC said.
NDRF team complained that all signboards in the state were written in Punjabi only, which caused difficulty for the rescue team to reach the spot."Apart from Punjabi, other languages like Hindi or English should also be used on signboards, so that even non-Punjabis can make it easily to their destination," Verma remarked.