He had Rs 10,000 in his pocket but no hope in his heart. Awaiting death under the debris of the factory building, he tore all the currency notes.
In a miraculous story of survival, Nitesh Kumar, 18, from Sidhwalia village in Bihar's Gopal Ganj district, was rescued at 12:25am on Thursday - about 73 hours after the Shital Fibres building collapsed on Sunday night. What's even more baffling, he escaped with just a scratch.
"I had got Rs 5,100 as salary for March on Sunday evening. My fellow worker and room-mate, Sunil, had handed over his salary (Rs 4,200) and told me that he would take it back later. In addition, I had about Rs 600 with me," said Nitesh, who resides in Ram Nagar here.
"Having lost all hope of survival, I thought the money was useless," he said. Recalling the tragedy, Nitesh said he was darning the blankets when he saw other workers running helter-skelter. "Soon, it dawned on me that the building was crumbling. Within seconds, the whole structure came down," he said, adding that he got stuck between collapsed pillars.
"I had no space to move. I called Sunil, who replied that he was fine. He came out of the debris using his mobile phone torch," Nitesh added. The youth said his friend, Amarjeet, whose foot had to be amputated, had taken his mobile phone to make a call just before the mishap.
Nitesh said it was thirst, not hunger, which tortured him the most in the hot conditions. "On Wednesday night, I heard the sound of cutters being used by rescue workers. I shouted that I was alive. They spotted me and brought me out of the debris," he recalled.