Fire engulfed a three-storey building near West Delhi's Mundka metro station on Friday, 13 May, killing at least 27 people. Survivors told The Quint that many had to jump off windows and descend with the help of ropes to save themselves.
However, many were also saved by a crane operator and concerned bystanders.
Dayanand Tiwari says he was returning from work at the Mundka industrial area, next to the metro station, when he received a message from the owner of the crane to drop everything and rush to the site.
The relatives of the people trapped in the building had apparently reached out to the owner for help, who asked the crane operator to rescue as many as possible. Tiwari was able to save around 50 women, he says.
‘Many More Could Have Been Saved'
Tiwari, who was just ten minutes away from the site, asked his brother to go and "see what was going on". His brother then helped clear the way for the crane to approach.
They broke the divider to get close to the building and began rescuing the trapped women from the second floor, about five in each go. Around 50 women were rescued with the help of the bystanders, he says.
"Some of the women were crying out for help from above. But, after a certain point, smoke and flames had engulfed the building and we couldn't see anything. We couldn't save any more people."Dayanand Tiwari
"I am filled with regret that we couldn't do more, and some of the women were left calling out for help," he adds, lamenting the fact that firefighters didn't arrive earlier.
"The firefighters arrived an hour and a half late. The building caught fire at 4:30 pm and they arrived at 6 pm. If our system was a little better, many more lives could have been saved."Dayanand Tiwari
Rescue operations are still underway at the site. Fire officials on Saturday told the media that the death toll is expected to rise with 29 people still reported to be missing.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia reached the site on Saturday to take stock of the rescue operations and and ordered a judicial probe into the matter.