After being surrounded by darkness for hours, on Tuesday, a few more workers were pulled out of the debris of the collapsed building in Moulivakkam. Survivors recount their experiences to The Hindu

For nearly 60 hours, 30-year-old Senthil was lying flat on his back, staring at a ceiling that was just one-and-a-half feet above him.

When he thought his chances of being rescued, or even surviving, were slim, he finally saw daylight as he was pulled out of the debris, at the site of the building collapse in Moulivakkam, on Tuesday morning.

“There were two women who were trapped along with me. I kept talking to one of them, who had difficulty breathing, and tried to make her respond. But she collapsed last night,” said Senthil.

The workers who emerged alive spoke exclusively to The Hindu on what went on under all that rubble, in the darkness.

This was the first time Senthil of Peraiyur in Madurai came to work in the city and he vows never to return.

Senthil and Anusuriya (35), along with Jayam (35), who did not survive, were working on the second floor of the building when it collapsed. While Senthil sustained minor bruises on his back, Anusuriya was injured in the hip.

“We were surrounded by darkness. This morning, I suddenly saw a gap in the debris and I shouted out, ‘Anna anna, inga irukkom (Brother, we are here)’. On spotting me, they gave me some fluid to sip on and I was pulled out,” said Anusuriya, native of Andhra Pradesh.

Many of the survivors undergoing treatment at Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre (SRMC), Porur, said they were surrounded by nothing but darkness under the rubble. Many of them had been working at the site for less than two months.

Thirty-five-year-old Meenammal from Andhra Pradesh, another survivor, seemed too shocked to talk. This resident of K. Krishnapuram in Andhra Pradesh was working on the ninth floor when the building collapsed.

Pandiarajan (27) of Virudhunagar and Prabhu (22) of Madurai felt fortunate they were rescued within four hours after the building collapsed on Saturday.

“I was working on the 11 floor along with six others. But my friend Karuppaiya, who was working on the ground floor, is still missing. I am worried about him,” said Pandiarajan.

Despite surviving the collapse, Lakshmi, a resident of Komarada Mandal in Vizianagaram, could not stop worrying as her husband and daughter were still under the debris.

As on Tuesday, a total of 26 persons — three from Odisha, 13 from Tamil Nadu and 10 from Andhra Pradesh — were being treated in a special ward at SRMC. Most of them had orthopaedic injuries such as fractures.

Four of them will undergo surgery on Wednesday, said hospital officials.

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