When Muthu came back from the library to his house in Adugodi on Tuesday morning, he was greeted by the sight of debris from the workshop and nine tenements, including his, that collapsed in the complex.
The engineering student couldn’t see his mother Padma (43) around, but he wasn’t too worried; he assumed she would be at their other house in Vinayakanagar. “She would sleep in that house and come here to Audugodi in the morning.”
However, neighbours soon raised concerns that Padma too might be among those buried in the debris, even as Fire and Emergency Services personnel continued their search for her.
Muthu went to the other house to check, but couldn’t find his mother there either. When he returned to the complex, his worst fears were confirmed, as his mother’s body was recovered, nearly four hours after the collapse.
His brother Ramesh, also an engineering student, rushed home when he got a call from Muthu. “My brother called me around 11 a.m. informing me of the collapse. I immediately left from college in Whitefield, but it took me more than an hour to reach the house,” he said.
Ramesh added that their father Selvaraj was away on business in Tamil Nadu, when the house collapse happened.
The feeling of devastation was shared by Major, who lost his brothers Bhola (22) and Malkhan (18) in the accident. “I had gone outside the compound to the toilet when I heard a loud sound outside. I ran back only to find that my Bhola and Malkhan were crushed to death,” he said.
Rajbir Singh, another brother, was taken to hospital and later discharged.
The family hails from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and makes a living by selling corn on the streets.
Manjamma (50), who was also killed in the collapse, was a labourer. Her husband and children were away in Kuppam, Kolar, and nobody initially realised that she too was trapped. Some residents then recalled that they had not seen her since 8.30 a.m., when she was decorating her doorstep with rangoli. Hers was the last body recovered.