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Memories from a dark afternoon

DNBAN21223 | 3/5/2010 | Author : Soumita Majumdar | WC :319 | Disasters & Accidents



For 32-year-old Nitin Dubey, it was just a normal Tuesday afternoon until a gust of smoke billowed into his office. And even as the employee of Equis India, a firm located on the seventh floor of Carlton Towers, looked on in horror, he became part of one of the greatest tragedies to hit the city in recent times.
"It was horrible. In a matter of minutes, the room filled up with smoke. For over an hour, we just stood there, trying hard to breathe. Finally, we had no option but to break open the glass panes," recalled Dubey, even as he waited for his discharge certificate from Manipal Hospital on Thursday.
By the time Dubey was rescued and taken to the Manipal Hospital half-an-hour later, he was barely conscious and could do little beyond utter his name for the police's benefit. "I had to be kept on the ventilator for a week," Dubey said, adding that not a single fire drill was conducted at Carlton Towers in the three years he had spent working there.
Christ College lecturer Shivraj, on the other hand, was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Narrating his harrowing experience to the media, he said, "I had come here to meet a friend that day when smoke started billowing into the office. Nobody seemed to know where the emergency exit was. The smoke was so thick that it was impossible even to see the person standing next to you – leave alone locate fire exits."
Incidentally, when somebody finally did manage to locate the exit, he found it locked.
Shivraj saved about 10 to 12 people that afternoon, but he wished he could have done a little more.
Though Shivraj, who cut his feet on broken glass pieces during the incident, was discharged the next day from Manipal hospital, he had to be readmitted due to recurrence of breathing problems.
m_soumita@dnaindia.net



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