Constricted lanes hinder rescue ops in Mumbai

The vehicles carrying equipment for disaster control could not pass through the narrow lanes and debris had to be cleared manually.
Fire Brigade and NDRF personnel carry out rescue works after the collapse of the four-storey Kesarbai building at Dongri(Bhushan Koyande/ HT)
Fire Brigade and NDRF personnel carry out rescue works after the collapse of the four-storey Kesarbai building at Dongri(Bhushan Koyande/ HT)
Published on Jul 17, 2019 01:11 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By Sagar Pillai

Narrow lanes and overcrowding proved to be major challenges for the fire brigade and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) while rescuing those stuck under the debris of Kesarbai building in Dongri area of south Mumbai on Tuesday. Ten people died and nine were injured in the incident.

Fire brigade officials reached the spot around 11.55 am. But the vehicles carrying equipment for disaster control could not pass through the narrow lanes. Consequently, debris had to be cleared manually. A senior officer of the Mumbai fire brigade said, “Getting access was a big challenge. Unable to carry any machinery, we have to do all the work – from clearing debris to cutting iron girders – manually.”

Local residents formed a human chain from the spot to the lane outside in order to pass the debris quickly.

More than 94 NDRF personnel and some fire officials were deployed at the spot. “As these are old buildings that were renovated at some point, iron rods were put up around the structure. This made rescuing those stuck in the debris tough. Only if we could take a JCB inside, all debris would have been cleared,” said the fire official. Local residents also helped carry victims on stretchers for at least 400m, the distance to the main road, as the ambulance could not enter the lanes. While four people held the stretcher, four others supported the victims so they didn’t fall. In the absence of machinery, sniffer dogs were used for the operation.

Anupam Srivastava, a commandant of NDRF, said, “We had three important equipment to detect life. One was through heartbeats, thumping or vibrations and detecting location...locals had overcrowded at the spot...So we proceeded with the operations by sending sniffer dogs.”

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