Mumbai

Families recollect memories, survivors recount the horror

Distraught: Relatives of Bhalchandra and Sunita Joshi at the funeral in Thane; and (below) deceased Laxmiben Gangar and her daughter-in-law Tarala Gangar.

Distraught: Relatives of Bhalchandra and Sunita Joshi at the funeral in Thane; and (below) deceased Laxmiben Gangar and her daughter-in-law Tarala Gangar.  

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Mumbai: Tarala Gangar (52) could have easily rescued herself out of their 11th floor apartment after the fire broke out in the neighbouring flat. But, she chose to not abandon her mother-in-law Laxmiben Gangar (83), who had been bedridden for a while.

‘It is dark out there and the passage is filled with smoke. I cannot come out,’ were the last sentences that Tarala said to a relative when they reached her over the phone. Nobody heard from her after that.

The Gangars occupied flat no. 1103 and 1104 in B wing. After the flames were doused, the fire brigade pulled out two bodies from the floor.

Families recollect memories, survivors recount the horror

Since the bodies were charred beyond recognition, Tarala’s son Sagar identified them on the basis of the ornaments that were on the remains. “They could not open the door as the corridor was filled with smoke and flames. They ran into the puja room, from where their bodies were pulled out,” Vinod Vora, Tarala’s brother-in-law, said.

“Tarala’s daughter-in-law Ruchi had stepped out to fetch vegetables just five minutes ago. When she returned to the society, she learnt about the fire and alerted all of us,” Mr. Vora said.

Families recollect memories, survivors recount the horror

Remembering her cousin, Dheeraj Shah said, “I had known Tarala since our childhood. She was a home maker and a simple woman. She was also a heart patient, but looked after the family very fondly.”

For the Joshis, who live on the 14th floor, the fire brought in double loss. The couple, Sunita Joshi (72) and Bhalchandra Joshi (72), were trapped in the smoke and asphyxiated to death. Their younger son, Sandeep Joshi, who evacuated his wife and children to the top floor, could not reach his parents after smoke filled the stairway.

“I saw my father get on the staircase. My mother had been rescued too. I ran up with my children in the meanwhile, and I thought my parents would come up too. I could not save them,” an inconsolable Mr. Sandeep Joshi said on Thursday night.

“It just happened very quickly and both our relatives perished in one night. It is an irrevocable loss for us,” Madhukar Sathe, a relative of the Joshis, said.

Suman Joshi (83), a resident of the 12th floor also died of suffocation. Suman’s body was received by her son Sanjay Joshi, senior police inspector, Vikhroli police station, on Friday. Her husband Shrinivas (86) had also inhaled smoke, but is stable.

On Friday, last rites of the Joshi couple were held in Thane, while Laxmiben and Tarala Gangar were cremated in Ghatkopar.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 10:58:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/families-recollect-memories-survivors-recount-the-horror/article25854993.ece

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