Friday, April 9, 2010
Stephen court – three days of mourning and terror!
A horrific reality caused more due to human folly where human lives were valued less than mobile towers!
Bangalore last month kolkata this time. Horrific scenes of men n women shouting for help & jumping to death from the 6 storey burning high-rise in a metro. The afternoon killer blaze took almost 30 lives, at least 3 of them whom leaped from the 5-6 storey. Charred bodies were recovered .Several missing. The fire broke out around 2 pm. The sky was blue one moment & black with smoke the next .Hundreds were caught in danger zone … Diners at Flurys ,Peter cat employees , Bpo employees ..Residents...The party zone of kolkata turned into mourning zone.
A women in sand colored salwar stood framed …WAVED…No one knew for What…May be to plead for help or to say goodbye….While people stood shrieking “DON’T PLSS .NO NO NO” she jumped! The sickening thud & a piercing wall pushed the shocked crowd few steps back. The window no longer existed .All that was left was flames...Many clung to narrow ledges climbed on air conditioner cages or hung from window sills that were so hot that they scaled their skin right off palms…They waved and shouted at passerby below but no one was there for help ..Some tried cable wires to come down but most of them fell…
The night mare on Park Street continued on Wednesday with police recovering dead bodies from the gutted entrails of Stephen court taking the toll up to 24... Most people killed were the recruits at the call centre & a couple of officers from the top floor s...Who had no clue where the stair ways of the building were located.
In the darkness of a staircase. A sudden ray of hope chocking on smoke, 18 young men nn women staggered up to what was there last refuge from the inferno engulfing the Stephen court offices...A few steps more & they would be on the roof safe alive. Only a door remained between them & survival .But” IT WAS LOCKED!
ONE can imagine the horror the 18 must have faced..Young happy executives with everything to live for .As the raging flames crept closer the smoke grew thicker, the stairs hotter, metal rods glowed red hot. With smoke filled lungs, they couldn’t even shout any longer .In sheer helplessness the sat down n waited for death .Some vomited out of fear .That was how the 18 bodies were found .Hunched over .mummified near the gate like a scene from Pompeii. Mercifully they All suffocated before flames crawled on their skin!
NO one had ever cared about the maintenance of these buildings .NO one ever asks why the doors were locked .No one ever pointed out the dangers of having lifts by the stair case. All escape routes were cut off... The only hope was the terrace which the 18 tried to reach – but the gates were locked to protect six mobile towers. I ask a simple question..were the mobile towers more important than human lives? The keys were with the care taker who said “I couldn’t go up during a fire to unlock the gates”
Flames simmered deep inside the affected portion of the majestic structure till late Wednesday afternoon while the roof of the fifth floor collapsed In intense heat prompting the civic authorities to declare the building unsafe or order immediate demolition of the two top floors .Firemen kept on spraying jets of water through the wrenched , twisted window frames of the ravaged building s late on Wednesday .The first group of rescuers that were able to get in the majestic place removed a dozen charred bodies. Hundreds of people gathered to get a glimpse of the ghastly scene. However police cordoned off the area. As rescuers cut through the wraps of twisted metals & melted rubbles the next day, they stumbled upon a pair of human limbs a clump of stiff melted blackened flesh ,strip of skin. The heat had been so intense that the skin had fused with metal. AS the gas cutters hissed through the metal beams pinning the corpse the head tilted to side & a tumble of golden dyes soft hair fell softly on the cinders .On of the rescuers held back a gasp .The team paused for a few seconds & got off to work again!. In two hours they found charred remains of another body & then another in 15 minutes stuck between the rods of the stair case looking like a chicken freshly cooked in tandoor with an extra tint of food colouring.By 10 pm the death toll at Stephen court rose to 40 . Still many missing and many fighting for their life in the hospital!
A little alertness on the side of the maintenance staff could have avoided this situation and saved many lives and protected many dreams from burning in the horrific fire!