It was as though the ground had just slipped from beneath their feet and swallowed up an entire family – mother, father and three daughters – in the wall collapse at New Bharat Nagar, Chembur, on Sunday. On the other hand, another family managed to survive with injuries, though they lost all their belongings.
According to Ravi Raj Gorse, cousin of Pandit Gorse, 50, Pandit and his wife Chhaya, 47, had been living in the area since 1985 and their daughters Pratiksha, 19, Prachi, 15, and Pallavi Dupargude, 28, were all born here. Pallavi, who was married some years ago, had come to visit her parents, when tragedy struck.
Ravi, who lives in Panvel, rushed to Chembur as soon as he heard the news. But by the time he reached, everything was over. Neither his relatives nor their house remained standing. “As soon I arrived, I realised that Pandit and his wife were already dead. Pratiksha’s body was the last to be retrieved from the debris,” he said. Pandit did odd jobs, while his two daughters were still studying.
Thirty-four-year-old Kishor Gashing and his family were luckier than the Gorses and others, despite a wall collapsing on his sister, her husband and their six-month-old son. All three survived, with minor bruises. However, they lost their house and everything they owned.
Several relatives had gathered at Kishor’s house on Saturday night for the marriage of his cousin sister, which was to take place on Sunday. After ‘haldi’ rituals, the wedding guests were sleeping in his 10x10 feet house.
"Around 12.30 am, I was awakened by the sound of a loud thud and was shocked to see the entire wall having given way and collapsed inwards. I found my sister Rekha, 27, her husband Yogesh Gangawane, 30, and their baby underneath the debris. I immediately alerted others and we rescued them. It is god’s grace that we survived,” said Kishor.
His parents and other brother-in-law and other children were unhurt as they were sleeping in the other corner of the house. Most of their house was wrecked, with mud and debris taking over the space. Since everyone had survived with minor bruises, the family decided to go ahead with the marriage as planned and it took place on Sunday.
Meanwhile, there were two women stood on a wooden ladder in their shanty for over two hours for fear of getting electrocuted when the wall collapsed on their houses. Laxmi Jongankar, 40, was inside her hut when she heard people outside shouting about the wall collapse in the area.
On looking out through the window of her house, she saw that other shanties had been destroyed in the wall collapse. But she failed to notice that the debris had entered her house too, damaging it. “As people panicked and started shouting about live wires and shocks, I was scared and did not know what to do. When I saw a wooden ladder nearby, I thought this was the only thing that would save us from being electrocuted. So, with my relative, I stood on that wooden ladder. After more than two hours, I saw a man coming towards us, looking for those who were stuck and asked us to come out,” Jongankar said.
Bhaudas Rangavarpe, a resident of Vanjaar Danda, said, “Since the retaining wall was too old, it collapsed fell on the adjoining shanties.”