‘Life will never be the same’

 “I would see my mother’s face first thing in the morning. Now, every day will be incomplete without her,” said Hakim Khambati, son of 83-year-old Zubeida who was killed in a building collapse on Lamington Road on Tuesday.

The Khambatis owned the five-storeyed Yusuf Manzil, a portion of which came crashing down, and had been living on the fifth floor for the last 56 years.

“The incident has changed our lives. All the memories of the time spent in that house will always be on our minds,” said Hakim.

Zubeida was trapped in the debris for over three hours and was rushed to Nair Hospital in a critical condition. She succumbed to her injuries at the hospital on Tuesday night.

The family spent most of the night at the hospital completing the formalities. They spent the rest of the night at a friend’s place mourning Zubeida’s loss and preparing for her funeral.

Yusuf Manzil was a residential-cum-commercial building with four families residing in it. The third floor was vacant as the residents were not in town.

On Wednesday, the area was cordoned off and the fire brigade began removing the debris.

The Motiwala family, which lived on the second floor and included two children, one of them a 25-day-old infant, escaped without injury. “The baby and the family were stuck on the second floor for two hours as half their house teetered precariously. We went in from the back of the building to rescue them,” said PD Karguppikar, chief fire officer.

According to witnesses, the structure collapsed suddenly, giving residents no time to flee.

“It’s a very busy street, but several lives were saved since most people had gone for namaaz. If it had happened even a few hours earlier, the number of casualties would have been higher,” said Tariq Zariwala, a witness.

The Padalkar family, which lived in a two-bedroom flat on the third floor of the building for 35 years, will now have to move into a transit camp in Dharavi. Vijay Padalkar (68), a businessman, was in his balcony when he saw mud falling from the roof. “Within seconds, I heard a crash and the building fell in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, I managed to rush out, abandoning all my belongings,” said Padalkar.

“For a middle-class family, it is very difficult to rebuild their home. However, we count ourselves fortunate to have escaped without injury,” he added. “I was alone — my wife and son were away — so no one was injured.”

The Motiwalas have also agreed to move into the transit camp.


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