MUMBAI — Efforts by rescue workers in the congested Pimpripada area of Malad in north Mumbai to get a 15-year-old girl out of the debris of a wall which collapsed, proved futile as she was brought out dead.
The wall collapsed as Mumbai received the heaviest rainfall in 24 hours in a decade.
The toll in the wall collapse tragedy rose to 19, with the body of the girl, Sanchita Ganore, being brought out of the debris in the afternoon, almost 12 hours after she was trapped beneath it.
A doctor on the spot said the medical team tried their best but couldn’t save her.
“Her legs were stuck in the debris, so it took long to rescue her. We tried our best to bring her up alive but could not,” he said.
A rescue worker said Sanchita had been crying for help and asking for water.
“Shortly after the wall collapsed, we rescued a child from underneath the debris. This girl Sanchita had been crying for help since 2 am,” the worker, a local resident, said.
“Mujhe bahar nikalo,” had been her repeated plea, he said.
The girl’s cry for help from under the debris set off a massive rescue effort. Sanchita’s faint voice could be heard calling out for water to drink.
Efforts were made to cut a small section of the wall and clear a path for the girl to escape.
At the scene of the tragedy, an eyewitness said when the wall collapsed, it was like a tsunami accompanied by a massive thud.
“Water was getting accumulated since it began raining heavily several hours ago. It created massive pressure on the wall. It soon gave way,” a resident said.
People gathered at the site were seen discussing the ownership of the wall. While some claimed it belonged to the Forest department, others said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was the owner, while some said auto major Mahindra & Mahindra had erected it.
“It came down like a tsunami and the gushing waters threw aside everything that came its way,” said Sachin Dhuri, a resident.
Another local likened the collapse to the flash floods in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath in 2013, which killed over 5,500 people and buried most swathes of the town in slush.
Political parties, who regularly line up for votes, also came under fire as the residents, trying to come to terms with the tragedy, spoke in huddles at the site.
“They come here for votes but no one listens to us.
Once elections are over, they disappear. They have done nothing for us,” resident Suresh Patil said. “These political parties have a use and throw attitude towards us,” said Pramod Pawar, another local.
Residents said 60-70 hutments got damaged in the wall collapse, and demanded adequate compensation from the authorities.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis earlier in the day announced Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each deceased.
“The government promises housing for all but does not do anything. Lives have been lost. It should rehabilitate us now,” said resident Mahindra Singh.