Attempt to save kin proves fatal for two

Hassan Sahajahan Shaikh  

Mumbai: Of the four people who died in the fire at Crystal Tower, only 65-year-old Shubhada Shirke, a retired State Bank of India employee, was a resident of the building. While two others — Ashok Sampat (46) and Sajive Nair (53) — had rushed to help their relatives and friends when they got stuck in the lift, the fourth victim, Hassan Sahajahan Shaikh (37), had visited a relative for the Id-ul-Azha celebrations.

Shirke, who lived on the 12th floor, had called her daughter Shubhashree and her nephew Jayant Sawant informing about the fire before she ran up to the terrace to escape the flames. The terrace was locked and Shirke by then had fallen unconscious. Doctors at KEM Hospital said she was brought dead, and had superficial burn and smoke inhalation injuries. Shirke’s son, a major in the Army, is on his way from Ferozepur where he is posted.

Sampat, a real estate broker, lived in Abdullah Building, a few metres from Crystal Tower where his elderly parents — Veena and Naveen — live with his elder daughter Nidhi. On receiving frantic calls from his family, Sampat rushed to the building. “He took the lift but it got stuck on the 12th floor. His parents and daughter were rescued by the fire brigade with the help of a crane,” Sanjay Jain, a family friend, said.

Nair, a resident of Vasai, who ran a shop in Parel, was having tea after visiting Mashooq Safi Shaikh’s home on the 12th floor when the fire broke out. Nair and Sampat together rushed into the lift but got stuck inside. Their bodies were completely charred and were identified with some belongings.

Mr. Jain said Sampat was an active member of the Navratri mandal and had been living in Parel for the last four decades. Sampat’s mother, who was admitted to the intensive respiratory care unit at KEM Hospital, kept on asking why her son had not come to meet her.

Shaikh, fondly called Bablu, by his relatives made a last call to his cousin Azar Ali Shaikh, and thereafter no one heard from him till his body reached KEM. Shaikh lived in Zaveri Bazaar where he worked in his cousin’s office. On Wednesday, he came to Crystal Tower around 6 a.m. to join them for Id celebrations. “We did our morning prayers and decided to take a nap. Suddenly, the lights went off and there was smoke,” Azar said, adding that Shaikh and his uncle Jehangir ran out of the house while he went into the bedroom.

A few minutes later, Shaikh called Azar. “He said he didn’t know where he was. Before I could say anything, the call got disconnected,” Azar said. Shaikh was found lying on the staircase.

Azar, who is under observation at the hospital, said he stood at the balcony and covered his face with a wet pillow, a trick he had learnt in a fire drill he attended six months ago. “The fire brigade rescued me after three hours. But I could not help my brother,” he said.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 3:10:05 AM |

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