“My worst fears have come true. I had been trying to tell the police that Kavitha was trapped inside, but no one listened to me,” said a sobbing Varalakshmi, the dead teen's aunt when the 17-year-old's body was removed from the rubble on Wednesday evening.
Recalling the tragedy, Ms. Varalakshmi, who stays in an adjacent lane, said she rushed to her brother Nagarajappa's house, which is located right next to the collapsed three-story building, when she heard the first blast. “There were lots of people around and no one knew what was happening. Someone said that my brother's house was falling and some others tried to pull out my brother, who in turn was attempting to pull out Kavitha. But part of the wall came crashing down and he was forced to let go of her hand,” she cried.
Kavitha, a first PU student in the college run by the Vokkaligara Sangha, had just eaten her lunch after coming back from class when the blast ripped through the building next door, which collapsed on neighbouring homes.
“She was a bright student and hoped she would be economically independent,” said the aunt, adding that her brother earned his livelihood by ferrying neighbourhood children to and from a government school in Beggar's Rehabilitation Centre.
Narrating her trauma, she said no one listened to her pleas and everyone tried to convince her that her niece was not under the rubble. It was only after much screaming and badgering that the rescue personnel reached the spot she pointed out. Young Kavitha's body was retrieved after a four-hour operation.
Gangadharappa, who works as a security guard, was among the three whose homes were totally destroyed. He managed to rescue his four-year-old child, Chinmayi from the house that had already collapsed. “I also tried to rescue Kavitha but could not as the wall came crashing,” he said.
Another injured, Sharadamma, lay trapped with one leg buried in the debris. Anu Thayamma, who took part in the rescue work, told The Hindu that she was rescued with great difficulty and immediately despatched to hospital in an autorickshaw.