For residents of Kesarbai, day of sorrow and tragedy
Sabiya Nisar Shaik, 25, had just stepped out of her room in her third-floor house in south Mumbai’s Kesarbai building to fill her six-month-old daughter Aisha’s milk bottle on Tuesday morning when she felt the floor tremble. In a flash, the decaying building had caved in, burying her in-laws, her husband Nisar and her two-year-old son Abdul under the rubble.
Shaik didn’t make it out alive, and neither did her father-in-law Abdul Sattar. But four other members of the household were pulled out of the debris by personnel in a miraculous rescue.
The first to be pulled out was Sabiya’s mother-in-law Salma, after a relative, Yasmeen, saw a hand with white bangles on it waving from under chunks of concrete and alerted rescue personnel. “Looking at the bangles, I figured out that it belonged to my cousin. She was pulled out because she was waving and asking us to get her out of the debris,” said Yasmeen. Soon after, two-year-old Abdul was dragged out in a cloth, semi-conscious, after an hour of operation by the fire brigade.
Thirty-five-year-old Huma Shaikh, who lived on the first floor, saw the building collapse in front of her eyes. “My mother, younger brother and niece are still trapped. I had left for office and on my way I remembered I had forgotten my keys. I called out to my mother to throw me the keys from the window. As she came out, I heard a loud sound and the building collapsed.”
Mohammad Shaikh, 35, lived in an adjacent building and said he managed to save his family in the nick of time. “I was brushing my teeth when I heard a noise. I woke up my family members — three women and one man — and dragged them out of the building,” he said.
Twenty-year-old Zuber Mansoor Salmani and his brother Muzamil, 15, were not so lucky. The brothers, residents of Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, had lost their mother recently and were visiting their aunt, who lived in the building. On Monday night, the two brothers stayed back at the Dongri house, while their father went back to Nagpada. “Muzamil would often sleep in the shop. But last night, he decided to stay back at his aunt’s home,” said Akhil Salmani, a cousin.