Fear-stricken neighbours spend night at temple choultry

Some cannot access their homes because of rubble

Fear-stricken neighbours spend night at temple choultry
People living close to the ill-fated building in Ejipura recall the horrific Monday morning that shook them to the core. Many of them saw the building collapse like a pack of cards and the aftermath remains tumultuous.

While many of them have vacated their homes as a precaution, several others cannot access theirs as the rubble remains uncleared.

On Tuesday, Sathi collected his belongings from the building next door. The entrance to his house has been blocked by the rubble. “My family lived here but after the blast, I am unable to enter my house. I’m planning to just take my belongings and keep them elsewhere,” he said.

Sathi, who lays tiles for a living, is all shaken up and is unable to respond to questions.

Pushpa, another resident, said she saw Kalavathi, an old woman, falling from the first floor. Kalavathi later died. “I knew Kala who lived with her daughter. I had come to fetch water, and all of a sudden, there was a big noise and the entire building crashed. We are still trying to recover from what has happened,” she added.

In Kalavathi’s house, a kitchen filled with utensils stares at the road that leads to the building. A photograph of an unknown family member hangs on its wall, as a mute witness of the tragedy.

Mahendra, a security guard, lived right next to the ill-fated building until Monday. But he spent the night at a choultry belonging to the Kodanda Rama temple. The windows and bathroom doors have been ripped apart in the blast.

“The bathroom door just broke and fell on my son who was sleeping in the room. How can we live in a house where the doors and windows are broken? The landlord is not allowing us to enter the house and we are forced to sleep at the choultry,” he said. Around 20 people spent the Monday night at the choultry, he added.

For Balatharaj, it was a miraculous escape as she escaped the electricity pole that crashed on the compound wall just a few metres from where she had stood. “I was drawing rangoli outside my house when I heard the blast and the building collapsed,” she said.

Srinivas’s family which also lives next door is trying to cope with the tragedy. His wife Deepa says she was right in front of the building at the time of the blast. “We all were in a panic. Our children started crying after hearing the blast. The walls of our homes have cracked. Our Blacky (German Shepherd) is still disturbed and is not eating properly,” Deepa said.

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