Survivors, samaritans recount moments of anxiety, stroke of luck | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Survivors, samaritans recount moments of anxiety, stroke of luck

May 15, 2024 09:38 AM IST

Profiles of those who survived the hoarding collapse in Ghatkopar and those who helped rescuers through the night

Saved by miracle tanker

Bhiwandi resident Mohammed Arshad’s (38) right leg was fractured by the metal frame of the hoarding and he was also injured on his left leg. Presently admitted at the Rajawadi Hospital’s male ward on the ground floor, he said he was lucky to have survived the crash. (Raju Shinde/HT Photo)
Bhiwandi resident Mohammed Arshad’s (38) right leg was fractured by the metal frame of the hoarding and he was also injured on his left leg. Presently admitted at the Rajawadi Hospital’s male ward on the ground floor, he said he was lucky to have survived the crash. (Raju Shinde/HT Photo)

Indrajit Kevat, a driver, was taking a freshly-filled tanker from Mahul to Shrirampur in Ahmednagar district when he stopped at the petrol pump to refuel his vehicle “like we’ve done a hundred times”. The decision proved to be a life-saver, not just for him and his helper, but also ten other persons who took refuge under the sturdy frame of the vehicle.

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“The tanker had only 30 litres of diesel left, and we had a long journey ahead. So we stopped at the petrol pump as we’ve done a hundred times. But all of a sudden, the hoarding came crashing down,” he said. “Both I and my helper were fine, as we were shielded. But people standing around us and those on bikes rushed to take shelter under the tanker.”

Though the hoarding crashed through the petrol pump’s roof and crushed nearly all vehicles beneath, the tanker survived the impact with only a big dent on its body, saving those who took refuge under it. After the collapse, 12 persons including Kevat and his helper crawled out from under the metal columns. Some were slightly injured, including Kevat, who had a gash on his forehead.

“It’s a miracle the tanker,” he exclaimed during a visit to the site on Tuesday morning to check on the tanker. “Though the tanker had a temperature of 120 degree Celsius, it did not burst. That could have caused a catastrophe,” he said.

Escaped with a fractured leg

Bhiwandi resident Mohammed Arshad (38) was lucky to survive the hoarding crash that killed 14 people. A porter by profession, Arshad was at Ghatkopar to deliver a few items and had stopped by at the petrol pump to refuel his bike.

“I was done with my deliveries for the day and was leaving to meet my wife at Dadar when I decided to stop at the petrol pump, which was a kilometer away,” he said. Since it started raining, the staff at the pump asked him to wait. “The hoarding came crashing down within seconds. I didn’t even realise what had happened apart from hearing a loud thud but found myself stuck underneath, sandwiched between two people, before I passed out,” said Arshad.

When he came back to his senses, he realised the person above him was alive too. “I was in immense pain. Somehow, I managed to push the guy above who also was alive. It took us 15 minutes to crawl out to safety,” he said. His right leg was fractured by the metal frame of the hoarding and he was also injured on his left leg. Presently admitted at the Rajawadi Hospital’s male ward on the ground floor, he said he was lucky to have survived.

Langar food for rescuers

Joga Singh and his four friends, who install CCTV cameras for a living, were on their way from their residence in Ulhasnagar towards south Mumbai for an assignment when the hoarding collapsed. Upon seeing the chaos and the large number of people assembled at the site, they dropped their plans of travelling onward and fetched biscuits and water from shops nearby, which they distributed among rescue workers and onlookers. The five friends subsequently went back to Ulhasnagar and procured cooked rice, dal and vegetable curry for around 150 people from the langar of a gurdwara. They carried the food to the incident site in a tempo and distributed it among relief workers, staying back at the site throughout the night.

“Rescue workers were labouring through the night, under extreme pressure, trying to extricate the living as well as dead bodies from under the rubble. We thought that the least we could do was arrange food for them,” said Joga.

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