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Shivaji memorial row gets louder

mumbai Updated: Mar 16, 2012 02:57 IST
Kunal Purohit

A fire and multiple cylinder blasts at Ganesh Vita Sadan, on the Ratan Tata road in Tardeo saw heroes rising out of the ashes, ensuring that the death toll did not increase.

From fire officers, to casual labourers living in adjacent under- construction building, to locals, Thursday saw many individuals saving lives. While fire officials managed to rescue nearly 15-20 individuals, labourers and locals rescued another 25 odd people from the burning building.

The building, built before 1947, had 33 tenements, which included two offices and one shop. It caught fire around 7am in the morning. With the only staircase in the building catching fire, most residents had nowhere to escape. “That’s when most of the residents rushed to the top floors, hoping to escape the fire, which had not spread to the other floors yet,” said Devji Vinjhuda, a survivor, who lived on the building’s 1st floor.

That is when labourers, living in an adjacent under construction building, along with neighbourhood residents, decided to help.

Said Mohammed Shamsher, a labourer, “There is barely any distance between our building and the one that was on fire. Hence, we decided to put a ladder to a window on the building’s third floor from where survivors began escaping. Some labourers even climbed inside the burning building to search for survivors.” One of the labourers, who had entered the building, fell to the ground from the second-floor parapet and sustained injuries.

Fire officials also rescued many residents. “There was this one lady, who was so panic-stricken, that she did not want to be rescued even though the building was on fire. She refused to let us hold her. We had to coax and convince her gently, after which she finally allowed us to rescue her,” said a fire official, on condition of anonymity.

Divisional Fire officer PS Rahangdale said, “We have to adopt different techniques while conducting rescue operations. Thursday’s incident also had different types of survivors. Unfortunately, the only death in the incident occurred before we could reach, or else we would have tried and averted that too.”