It was like an explosion: Eyewitnesses recount the Hyderabad building collapse

Family members and relatives of those trapped under debris wait with baited breath at the site.
It was like an explosion: Eyewitnesses recount the Hyderabad building collapse
It was like an explosion: Eyewitnesses recount the Hyderabad building collapse
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A melancholic mood engulfed the Nanakramguda area in Hyderabad on Friday. As one entered the suburb, many police cars, fire engines and ambulances could be seen dotting the streets.

On Thursday night, a seven-storey under-construction building came tumbling down, trapping the families of sleeping construction workers and one watchman.

The area is known to house many construction workers, who are employed in the city's IT sector.

"We could hear the sound till the temple (main road). It was like a loud blast," says Dinesh, a construction worker from Uttar Pradesh, who stays roughly a kilometre away.

"First, I got scared. I thought it was a bomb blast. When I came out and looked in the direction of the sound, I could only see dust," he adds.

Ranjan, another construction worker from Odisha, also echoes Dinesh's statements.

"I saw when they pulled the first two people out. They were alive because they were rescued soon. I don't think we will find any more people alive now," he adds.

A large number of locals gathered around the collapsed building, even as rescue work continued well into Friday. The roofs and balconies of adjacent buildings were packed with onlookers. 

In one of the adjacent lanes, Neha, a shopkeeper constantly glances at the commotion in the street.

"I was sitting right outside the shop last night, when we heard the sound. We were one of the first people at the scene. This entire area was covered with dust. We couldn't even go till the spot, because the air was thick and we would start coughing," she says.

However, no one experienced the impact of the collapse as much as five migrant workers who were sleeping in a dingy room, right next to the collapsed building.

"We haven't slept for a single second since last night. We had finished dinner and we were just sitting, when it happened. Our entire house shook, and in an instant, we were blinded and coughing. We immediately shut the window," says Pradeep Singh.

"We couldn't even step outside, because it was worse. We were trapped for at least one or two hours till the rescue authorities came and the air cleared a bit," he adds.

The incident occurred a little before 10pm on Thursday, and the police and the army were present within an hour, while the NDRF was there in two hours.

Another NDRF team arrived from Vijayawada at 5am on Friday.

(Sniffer dogs were also pressed into service)

On one end of the street, concerned family members and relatives of those trapped, waited with bated breath.

While some women were wailing, others quietly sobbed, while some stood resolute, waiting for any information on their loved ones.

Cordoned off by the police, they keenly observed every bout of commotion at the rescue point, each time hoping that one of their own, was found.

"They are not telling us anything. We have been here since 4am. We stay near Hi-Tech city. We got a call at midnight, and we immediately woke everyone up, took an auto and rushed here. There are more relatives on the way from our village in Andhra," says Sathyam, whose brother, his wife, and their two children are missing.

"Why are they doing this to us? We are getting the news of our own loved ones from you people (media). I just want to know what is happening, and if they (her relatives) are alive or not," says Lakshmi, as she holds back tears.

Shortly after, there is commotion at the spot. A body has been found. All the relatives who are gathered, charge forward, only to be pushed back by the police.

A bedsheet is borrowed from a nearby household, and the dead body that was recovered, is wrapped up and taken into an ambulance in a matter of seconds.

The sorrow turns to rage.

"Tell me he is dead. I will go away. I won't stay here then. At least show us the face," a woman yells, but to no avail.

After a heated argument with the police, the relatives calm down, only to be agitated with each recovered body.

"We are all poor labourers. Why will they care about us? You can only see how they are treating us. Not even showing us the face. See all these people. For them, it is just another day of politics and then they will go to the next issue. For us, our life will never be the same again," says a man, as he points to state leaders of various political parties, who had arrived at the spot.

(The crowd gets into a heated argument with the police)

He neither wished to be named, nor photographed.

On Friday morning, Municipal Administration Minister KT Rama Rao also visited the site and announced Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia each to the families of the dead. 

KTR also said that the government would provide the best medical treatment to the injured.

The minister announced the suspension of a deputy commissioner of GHMC and an assistant town planning officer.

He said the builder had no permission for construction and severe action would be taken against him and the negligent authorities. 

Police booked a case against the builder Satyanarayana, who is absconding.

GHMC officials said the G+6 storey building was being constructed in violation of all norms.

The building had come up on just 270 square yards. Officials said the builder was also constructing a penthouse.

IANS Inputs

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