It was agony, desperation and helplessness all rolled into one.
Residents of the three-storeyed building that collapsed in NGO Layout, Kamalanagar, on Wednesday mounted a desperate but futile effort to salvage their belongings as authorities started pulling down the structure.
People living in an adjacent building, which also suffered damages and is being torn down over safety reasons, underwent the same ordeal.
The incident has dealt a body blow to the affected families. Not only did they lose the roof over their head, they also lost their life savings and in some cases, means of livelihood.
As the ill-fated building fell like a pack of cards, its inhabitants watched on helplessly.
While residents were lucky to have evacuated in time, they were agitated that authorities wouldn't allow them to salvage their belongings.
"We belong to the lower middle class and starting life afresh would be next to impossible. My husband is a heart patient and I have young children to look after. How will I manage?" asked Sarala, a resident.
Another resident said that the family had invested life's savings on buying jewellery for their daughter’s marriage, scheduled to take place in November. "We had bought gold and silver jewellery. We were not allowed to go in to get any,” the resident said.
Angered by the strict action, the residents got into a heated argument with rescue workers.
Nagamma, who lived in the adjacent building that's also being pulled down, stayed near its gate throughout the night, hoping against hope that they would be let in at any time.
"The adjoining building had cracks but our building was considerably strong. The authorities did not tell us that they are going to bring down our building as well. Had they told us, I would have vacated the house overnight and salvaged our belongings,” she said.
BBMP officials said it was too risky to let anyone go into any of the two buildings.
"We decided to bring down the adjoining building only after consulting structural engineering experts. Allowing anyone inside when the building is on the verge of collapse would have been perilous. But we did try to salvage as many items as possible during the demolition. We may be able to recover some more belongings from the debris. We'll hand them over to their owners," said B Shivaswamy, BBMP Joint Commissioner (West).
Another resident said he had likely lost all household appliances and furniture. "We do not even have utensils and groceries to start life afresh,” he said.
Govind, a plumber who lived in the building, said: "All the machinery that I use is left inside. Without it, I can't even go to work."
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