KARNATAKA

A close call for many

Staff Reporter

Luckily, the lift malfunctioned

Bangalore: As in any tragedy, there were stories of lucky escapes. Some 500 persons were in Carlton Towers when the fire broke out around 4.20 p.m. “I was taking notes from my boss when he got a message on his mobile phone. He told me to alert our entire staff,” said Nandini, an employee of a consultancy on the seventh floor.

By 4.40 p.m., all the 19 employees left the office. However, it was no orderly evacuation. They all rushed towards the lift, the last thing one should do in the event of a fire. But it malfunctioned as clearly others also had the same idea. Moreover, the power went off around 4.45 p.m.

“We rushed towards staircase but there was a virtual stampede. We too elbowed and pushed people to save our lives,” said Nandini’s colleague Sangeetha.

Trapped

Ravindra Naik, an advocate, recalled the trauma of burning eyes and choking due to the thick smoke. “We were all trapped and feared for my life. I passed out but some Good Samaritans smashed the window glasses of the building and also supplied water to us. Later, the fire brigade rescued us.”

“Many strangers lent us moral support. They gave their mobile phones to us to call our parents and relatives. They were with us (women) till we were all rescued,” said K. Sheela, another survivor, who was waiting in front of the building to collect her laptop.

Sixth sense

“I was supposed to meet a client at a cafeteria in the building. All of a sudden something told me to ask my client to meet me at the parking lot. Within 10 minutes the fire broke out,” said Lydia Swarna, teacher and Kammanahalli resident.

Survivors and friends of the victims, speaking to The Hindu, were bitter about the lack of a safety mechanism in the building. According to them, “the safety compliance was almost zero”.

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