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Updated: July 1, 2014 03:04 IST

Chennai building collapse: For relatives, the agony continues

    Evelyn Ratnakumar
    Serena Josephine M.
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Around 300 people, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, have been put up at the Government Adi Dravida Welfare Higher Secondary School.

 V. Appalraj of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh clutched his sister’s voter ID, and stared at the huge, yellow cranes scooping out rubble at the site of the building collapse in Moulivakkam. There is no news of Vanumu Kalavathi (23) and her husband Ramu (25), both construction workers, who are feared to be trapped under the debris. The couple had been working here for the past three months while their children Manikandan (10) and Sanja (8) were living with Appalraj in Srikakulam. 

Appalraj has neither slept nor eaten since he arrived in Chennai on Sunday. “Sanja asks me when her mother will return home,” he sobbed. Appalraj is one of the many hoping to hear news of their loved ones. 

Around 300 people, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, have been put up at the Government Adi Dravida Welfare Higher Secondary School. Chandrasekar, also from Srikakulam, said that 12 workers from his district are trapped under the debris; only one of them has been found. “He is alive, so we have hope for the others,” he said. He added that most of the workers were related to each another. “Wages are better in Chennai; so, while we may return to our district for now, we will have to come back eventually,” said Chandrasekar, himself a construction worker at Shollinganallur. 

At the Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre, it was a similarly long wait for relatives. Sitting at a shelter earmarked for relatives of victims, Sarojini was waiting for information regarding seven of her family members, including her husband, M. Venkata Naidu (35), and daughter Damayanthi (18). The other five are relatives – all hailing from Parvathipuram taluk of Vizianagaram in AP. “I was working in the adjacent building, while my husband, daughter and the others were working in the one that collapsed. It was raining heavily and most of us did not hear any noise when the incident occurred,” she said. 

19-year-old Hemalatha and her sister Ramalakshmi, also relatives of Sarojini, said that their parents were still missing, “The workers at the building were asked to leave as it was raining on Saturday. They were leaving when the building collapsed. I was staying at the other block with my two children when the incident occurred,” Ramalakshmi said. 

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