Even as Bhagya (30) let out a scream asking her husband, Shivananda (40), not to switch on the light, a gust of red flames shot at her. In the swirling plumes of smoke, she says she saw the recumbent bodies of her husband and two children.

Around 4.30 a.m., an explosion ripped through the watchman’s shed of Elite Apartments at Kadri. While the couple’s eldest daughter Bharathi (14) was brought dead to the hospital, Bhagya, Shivananda and their son Anjaneya (12) suffered serious burn injuries.

Admitted to Government Wenlock Hospital, Bhagya, who works as a domestic help, recounts the minutes before the explosion ripped their lives apart.

“The casket was broken from before, and we had fixed it with a wire. Possibly it leaked through the night. My husband who was sleeping at the basement of the apartment, smelt the gas and banged on the door to wake me up. Everything smelt of gas. I closed the gasket, and opened the door to let the gas out. However, my husband switched on the light,” she said.

The explosion was such that windows of neighbouring apartments were shattered. The one-room shed in the apartment complex was completely decimated. Arvind Ariga, president of Mangalore Bar Association who lives next door, said screams were heard immediately after the explosion. “We poured water on them till the ambulance came. But, we could see that the girl had suffered serious injuries,” he said.

The loss is yet to settle in. Bhagya says Bharathi, who had passed Class 8 from a nearby government school, was set on being a doctor. “I had a lot of hope on her,” she said.

While Shivananda is from Haveri district, Bhagya is from Chitradurga. The couple moved to Mangalore a decade ago. Mangalore East Police station has booked a case of unnatural death.

The Ministry of Petroleum has advised people to take following precautions when they suspect an LPG leak:

1. Turn the pressure regular knob to the off position

2. Put out all fires in the kitchen including agarbatti and Pooja lamps

3. Open all doors and windows for ventilation

4. Do not strike a match and do not operate any electrical switches including the main switch. Electrical switches and dry cell torches generate sparks, causing fire and explosion

5. Reach out to the distributor

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