While teams from the fire brigade and the National Disaster Response Force used high-tech cameras and life detector machines for rescue operations, residents from neighbouring buildings made simple, yet indispensable contributions — by providing anything the teams needed.
“Early in the morning, when enough ambulances had not arrived, rescue forces did not have anything to cover the bodies with. We helped them by providing bed sheets,” said Shyam Patil, a resident from a nearby building.
“There was a loud thud and heavy soot covered the area as we saw people running away from the wreckage. We helped people escape from the debris before the fire brigade reached the spot,” he added .
While BMC arrangements left plenty to be desired, locals pitched in with tea and bottles of water for those stranded.
The Mazgaon Dock Limited, which is located a few metres away, organised meals that were provided to the workforce and hapless relatives on the lookout for victims. “We roped in our entire canteen staff. Free lunch was provided to around 2,500 people in the area, which included the police, civil defence and fire brigade officials,” said Rajendra Deshpande, deputy office superintendent, Mazgaon Dock Limited.
Around four cranes and a labour force of about 1,000 were sent to the spot by the shipyard to aid the rescue operations.
Ironically, in the midst of all the good Samaritans was a JCB operator who attempted to steal Rs54,000 cash and gold worth Rs1 lakh that he found among the debris. However, given the multitudes of policemen and media personnel present at the spot, it did not take long for him to be noticed — and arrested.