Much before government teams reached the spot, it was residents of the vicinity who started off rescue efforts, hiring earth movers and calling in help from neighbours.

By the time the rescue teams arrived, eight of the 11 bodies had been retrieved.

“Around 6.45 in the morning, the milkman, who was at a teashop, told me that there was an accident and a portion of the wall in the godown had collapsed. Immediately, I called the panchayath leader’s husband S. Shekar, who alerted the rest of the village,” ward No. 6 member Munusamy said.

“From around 7 a.m., until the rescue teams arrived, we attempted to clear the debris and were hoping that at least someone would be alive. Just as the teams arrived, one of the villagers noticed a hand moving amidst the rubble. That was when we found Nagaraj, the sole survivor,” R. Kumar, one of the residents said.

“Many of us work as daily wagers and it was shocking to see that the wall had fallen on the hutment. It was only recently that these people came to the area and since they did not know the language, they kept mainly to themselves,” E. Asirvatham, a villager said.

“The locals’ rescue effort made our jobs easier. Their cooperation throughout our operations helped us clear the bodies and debris sooner,” one of the fire and rescue personnel said.

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