Shops reopen, traffic turns chaotic on Kundrathur Main Road

A grey, imposing multi-storeyed building towers ominously in the background. The lanes around it resemble a war-torn locality.

Banners proclaim the lanes as ‘prohibited areas’ and barricades prevent entry. Residents are allowed inside only after producing proof of address. However, there are signs of life crawling back to normalcy.

This is Moulivakkam, a week after a building under construction collapsed, killing more than 60 persons and injuring 27.

Shops have now reopened and traffic has become chaotic on the dusty Kundrathur Main Road, near the accident site.

But for many, the wails of ambulances and the sound of distant thunder send a chill up their spines as the cries of victims still reverberate in their ears. M. Satish, R. Vinod, G. Ravi and G. Yuvaraj were among the few civilians who rushed to rescue those trapped in the collapsed building on June 28. “Around 4.30 p.m., there was a huge noise and my house shook. When I stepped out, I saw the building had collapsed,” recalls Satish.

He was concerned about the fate of the tuition centre he runs along with his friend Vinod. “Luckily, our institution is intact. I alerted my friends who run a welding shop. They came with some equipment and started cutting the beams that were blocking the way,” he says.

Satish and the others heard someone calling for help and started cutting the beams faster. “By then, rescue teams had reached the spot. It took nearly nine hours to rescue one person. This is once incident that will stay in my mind forever,” says Vinod.

There is still fear in their eyes when they look at the building that remains standing. “We are frightened the other building too will fall. Many houses near the compound wall of the collapsed structure have been destroyed,” says Satish.

Even as he spoke, shopkeepers, who resumed business after a gap of nearly five days, began to down their shutters. “We had to keep our shops closed the past week as the road was teeming with policemen and ambulances,” says S. Ahmed Mustafa who runs a readymade garments shop.

The scene at Raja Raja Nagar, a few hundred metres away from the accident site, was a different one, however. Many residents have been asked to vacate their houses in fear of the second building too crumbling down.

“I settled here seven years back with many dreams. My building has been damaged in the accident and it has to be rebuilt,” says A. Kumar, a house owner.

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