How locals sensed danger, ran to safety minutes before Karol Bagh building collapse
The timing of the mishap in the early hours of the morning, preceded by warning signs, and the presence of mind displayed by local residents averted a tragedy. A woman, who fell while fleeing an adjacent building, suffered minor injuries — the only reported so far in the incident.Updated: Feb 28, 2019, 07:20 IST
On a usual working day, the four-storey Karol Bagh building that collapsed on Wednesday would be occupied by about a 100 workers and visitors. The two roads adjacent to it would be crowded with shoppers throughout the day. In the morning hours, the same roads are filled with schoolchildren.
But the timing of the mishap in the early hours of the morning, preceded by warning signs, and the presence of mind displayed by local residents averted a tragedy. A woman, who fell while fleeing an adjacent building, suffered minor injuries — the only reported so far in the incident.
“Had the mishap occurred just two hours later or had we not noticed it in the nick of time, the mishap would have left dozens of people dead or injured,” said Shekhar Mandotia, a businessman who lived four buildings away from the collapsed structure, and claimed he woke to violent tremors at around 8.30 am.
The collapse came as no surprise to people of the locality. Residents said they would often see concrete shedding from a “visible gap” between the building and an adjacent one, and their pleas for repair allegedly fell on deaf ears of the multiple owners of the building.
” At 2am, I was woken by sounds of concrete shedding, but I ignored it, thinking it was the water overflowing from our tanks,” said Virender Khorwal, a resident of an adjacent building. It wasn’t unusual as the gap between the two buildings was where all the water had been seeping in for the past four-five years, he said.
But the sounds grew louder at around 8.20 am. “I ran to the terrace to take a look at the gap between the two buildings and realised that our worst fears were coming true. I picked up my children, alerted other residents of my building before rushing out to raise an alarm,” said Virender.
The timely alarm ensured that all workers residing in the damaged building and most others in the adjacent structures managed to rush to safety. “There were around six workers who lived at their workplace. Two of them ran out in their innerwear,” said Souvik Mandal, a tailor who works nearby.
Residents, meanwhile, immediately blocked traffic on the two adjacent roads. “There were some school vans and schoolchildren on the road, but they were moved in time,” said Mandal. The garments stitching units and shops operating out of the building was yet to open. The local market too was yet to pick up activity and footfall.
But there was the threat of the building falling on adjacent structures. According to a fire officer, the risk was reduced due to the presence of wide roads on its two sides. “Fortunately, the building came crashing straight down instead of falling sideways,” said a fire officer.