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Bawana fire: Survivor who found himself helpless in saving others

Aakash Srivastava | New Delhi |

A five-month pregnant woman was among 17 who lost their lives in Bawana Industrial Area fire on Saturday evening.

Soni, 2,1 was living with her husband and in-laws in Metro Vihar area and had joined the factory only six months ago. Soni’s brother Babu Rao told The Statesman that “despite  being pregnant she had been working more than six hours of day to earn Rs 9000 a month. Last year in June she got married and subsequently took up work in the factory.”

Soni told her family members that her work involved “colouring certain substances” which were then packed for marketing. “We were unaware of the fact that she was working in firecracker unit. Otherwise, we would have never allowed her to work there,” said her husband.

Roop Prakash, 21 one of the two who survived the fire, recalled the horrorific time he faced for two hours before he could escape. He said he did not lose hope and tried looking for a way to escape. He said, “it was around 6.30 p.m. when I heard the noise of one person shouting ‘fire fire’. Within no time I saw people running helter skelter, some even in burning clothes.”

Sensing fire all around, Roop Prakash tried to search for his brother Suraj and two cousins Rohit and Himanshu but he did not find anyone. “I went to different rooms and shouted their names but all others were yelling too. So I could not hear my brothers’ voices. Within half an hour more than 10 people had become victims of fire.”

“Meanwhile, it was getting difficult for me to stay ther eany longer due to heavy smoke and spreading fire. For perhaps an hour I witnessed people yelling for help as their clothes caught fire but there was no way I could help them,” said Roop.

Roop said after having failed to find his brothers and finding regular exit routes inaccessible due to fire he rushed to thesecond floor. “As the building had no windows, I broke the lock of terrace and went there. The height was great so it took a while for me to gather courage to jump. Meanwhile, Sunita one of my colleagues also managed to come to the terrace. She told me that everyone had either died or  was badly injured. Seeing no other way to escape, I suggested to her ‘lets jump’. Initially she argued that we wait for a rescue team but sensing time was running short I convinced her and we both jumped together,” said Roop Prakash.

The two suffered injuries and were admitted to hospital. Sunita could not be contacted. However, Rajeshwari who had lost her son was inconsolable outside the mortuary of Baba Sahab Ambedkar Hospital. She said her son was earning Rs 9,000 a month but gave half the amount to her. “He was good son and we were planning to get him married soon.”

Many morewere present outside the mortuary of Baba Sahab Ambedkar Hospital. They all had numb eyes and a similar tale of tragedy to narrate.