THANE: Of the several survivors pulled out of the collapsed Mumbra building and admitted to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Hospital in Kalwa, one has become the cynosure of the staff’s eyes. The staff dotes over the lucky nine-month-old girl, feeds her and puts her to sleep. But mixed with the nurses’ delight is deep concern: the toddler’s parents are feared trapped in the debris.
The identity of the girl is yet to be established since nobody has come forward to claim her. In the meantime, the hospital staff is showering her round-the-clock with love and attention.
Hospital security guard Rekha Lad said, “I fed the child milk. She’s such a cute girl. It is so unfortunate that her parents are untraceable. We pray that she be reunited with her family.”
Siddram Jadhav, a male nurse, is also taking care of the child. He even bought diapers for the child with his own money. “She should not feel alone. We are like a family. She will be safe with us. We hope that her parents or relatives will approach us at the earliest,” he said.
A group of young local volunteers, meanwhile, has assumed the responsibility of searching for the child’s parents. The youths checked hospitals, studied survivor records and enquired if any survivor is missing a toddler daughter. But till late evening, they had no luck.
Aslam Sayyed, a volunteer, said: “We are worried about the child. We made rounds of the three hospitals where the injured were admitted in a bid to trace her parents. Unsuccessful, we now believe that they are still trapped underneath the rubble.”
Jadhav said the hospital staff will try its best to trace the tot’s parents. “If it takes long, we may consider approaching an NGO to adopt the child,” he added.
Over 60 dead, 70 injured:
The death toll in the collapse of a residential building being constructed illegally in Thane rose to 62 on Saturday amid diminishing hopes of finding any survivors alive, police said.
A girl who was injured during the collapse of a residential building, rests with a social worker on a hospital bed in Thane district, on the outskirts of Mumbai. (Reuters)
Another 70 people were injured when the eight-story building on forest land in the Mumbai suburb of Thane caved in into a mound of steel and concrete on Thursday evening, police said.
Police officer Dahi Dhule said that rescue workers with sledgehammers, gasoline-powered saws and hydraulic jacks worked through Friday night to break through the tower of rubble in their search for possible survivors. Six bulldozers were brought to the scene.
Prithviraj Chavan, chief minister of Maharashtra, said a government probe has been ordered into the accident, and that a deputy municipal commissioner and a senior police officer have been suspended for dereliction of duty.
At the time of the collapse, between 100 and 150 people were in the building. Many were residents or construction workers, who were living at the site as they worked on it, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for the Thane government.
More than 20 people remained missing and three floors of the building remained to be searched, said RS Rajesh, an official with the National Disaster Response Force who was at the scene.
“All the three floors are sandwiched … so it’s very difficult for us,” he said.
The dead included 17 children, police said.
A nearby hospital was filled with the injured, many of whom had head wounds, fractures and spinal injuries. Hospital officials searched in vain for the parents of an injured 10-month-old girl who had been rescued.
At least four floors of the building had been completed and were occupied. Workers had finished three more floors and were adding the eighth when it collapsed, police Inspector Digamber Jangale said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the structure to collapse, but local police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi said it was weakly built. Police were searching for the builders to arrest them, he said.
Police with rescue dogs were searching the building, which appeared to have buckled and collapsed upon itself.
Raghuvanshi said rescue workers had saved 15 people from the wreckage.
Building collapses are common as builders try to cut corners by using poor quality materials, and as multi-storied structures are built with inadequate supervision.
The massive demand for housing around India’s cities and pervasive corruption often result in builders adding unauthorized floors or putting up illegal buildings.