MUMBAI: At least 40 labourers had a narrow escape as they went for their lunch break minutes before a chartered plane crashed into an under-construction building in the bustling Ghatkopar area yesterday.
Five people -- four crew members and a pedestrian -- lost their lives when the King Air C90 plane crashed into the crowded suburb at 1.11 pm.
The labourers of the under-construction building where the ill-fated plane crashed, had gone away for lunch, which averted more casualties.
Three construction workers received minor injuries in the incident and were admitted to a civic hospital.
Labourer Naresh Nishad, who sustained injuries on his face said, "We had a lucky escape as we were not present at the site as it was our lunch time. Otherwise, we would have met the same fate. I don't know where the plane came from. I saw some burning pieces coming towards me and heard explosions," Nishad, who hails from Chhattisgarh, added.
Another labourer said, "There was light rain at that time which made us seek shelter for our lunch. We went to another under-construction building in the same compound. But generally, we used to have our food at the very place where the tragedy struck."
Another daily wage worker, Lavkush, who came to Mumbai from Allahabad, received a minor abrasion in his right leg.
"Everything was quite normal and then suddenly the entire compound was filled with smoke and flames. I'm lucky that I was not present at the construction site. I'm alive today," he said.
The police officials also agreed that due to the lunch break several lives were saved.
"People were lucky that the plane crashed at the under-construction site and not into any other nearby high-rise. The labourers working at the site were fortunate as they were away for lunch. Otherwise, the tragedy would have been bigger," a police official present at the spot yesterday said.
The plane once belonged to the Uttar Pradesh government and was sold to UY Aviation, a private company.
The aircraft had taken off from the Juhu airstrip on a test flight.
It lost control when it was four nautical miles from Juhu, Air Traffic Control (ATC) sources had said.