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Mumbai Fire: Odontology expert helps identify badly-charred bodies

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Mumbai: Four people have been reported dead and 26 were injured in a major fire which occurred at the Crystal Tower residential apartments near Hindmata Cinema, Parel, on Wednesday morning. According to doctors, all four bodies have been identified, of which two were identified using the help of an accessories and forensic odontology expert. The injured have sustained minor burn injuries and are all stable now.

The deceased have been identified as Babloo, 35, Shubhda Shirke, 62, Ashok Sampat, 46, and Sanjeev Nair. “Four were brought in dead to the hospital. Two bodies were identified immediately, but it took six hours to identify the other two as these were completely charred, making it difficult for relatives to identify it,” said a doctor. He further added Nair’s body, though 100 per cent charred, was identified by a relative with the help of a chain and watch he was wearing. Dean of The King Edward Memorial Hospital, Dr Avinash Supe, said 27 patients were brought to the hospital, of whom three were taken to Global Hospital. One of the three was a pregnant woman. “Most of the injured suffered minor burns, and cuts. Asphyxia was the main reason for fainting and all patients — 10 males and six females are stable,” added Dr Supe. He further said forensic odontology experts were roped in as one of the bodies was beyond recognition. “We identified Sampat’s body through his dental filling. He had one silver filing. We matched his frontal teeth with a photograph of his, helping to confirm his identity. His belt buckle too affirmed his identity,” said Dr Hemalata Pandey, forensic odontology expert.

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Residents were stuck after inhaling smoke


Dolly Maithun, 45, who resides on the ninth floor of Crystal Tower, had no idea what to do as the entire floor was enshrouded in smoke and obscuring her view of the staircase. “My family was about to have breakfast when the fire broke out and suddenly we heard people screaming for help. As I opened the door to check what had happened, smoke rushed into my house and we were scared and did not know what to do,” she said.

While the rest of her family was able to escape, she was stuck as she had inhaled smoke and was unable to breathe. “I was not able to escape as I could not see the staircase and smoke was making it difficult to breathe. Luckily, a fireman came to the ninth floor and saved me. I sustained minor injuries to my hand,” Maithun said.

Jayashree Sadavarte one of the residents who was with Sampat’s family when the fire broke out said that they were in Ashok Sampat’s house who lost his life in the tragedy. “Ashok Sampat was downstairs when the fire broke out, but he was talking to his daughter on phone and taking updates continuously. I believe he rushed upstairs to help us (his daughters) who were stuck like us on the sixteenth floor. His body was found in the elevator as I got to know from one of the fire officers. I believe he took an elevator to reach upstairs and the tragedy took place. It’s really very disheartening to get this news, as he was the one who always used to run for others’ help,” said Sadavarte.

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Salomi Hyams (68), one of the original residents of the redevelopment building Crystal Tower, stays alone in her flat 902 after her husband’s death. I was busy praying when the fire broke out. I opened the main door of my flat and saw a massive smoke coming in. I realised there was a fire in our building and as there was no way to go out, I opened my gallery door, sat outside waiting for some help for almost two hours. The fire officers reached on my floor and took me outside safely.

5 firemen hospitalised for asphyxiation

Firefighter Raju Narwade, 22, who saved three people, including Dolly, ended up suffering smoke inhalation himself, necessitating hospitalisation. “I was using the stairs to rescue people and there was maximum smoke accumulation between the sixth and ninth floors. I saved people on the lower floors and when I managed to reach the ninth floor, I saw Dolly trying to escape,” he described. Four other firemen too had to be rushed to the hospital for suffocation brought on by smoke inhalation. As the building had glass doors on the staircase, smoke accumulated in the area for want of an outlet, said Narwade.

“To clear the air, I had to break the glass window with my hand. I was injured in the process but continued to help people escape. However, after a point, I had inhaled too much smoke and had to stop,” Narwade explained. A doctor said Narwade was on oxygen as he was not able to breathe. “He is stable, but had injuries caused by glass shards embedded in his right hand, which were removed,” added doctor.