KOCHI: When Dhanpal Naik smiled cheerfully at his co-worker Babu Naik while handing over the mud from the drain of a house near Kaloor on Wednesday, he perhaps had no idea that it would be his last smile. Seconds later, a portion of the roof collapsed, leading to his death.
“Dhanpal gave me a hearty smile while passing the mud in a rubber basket. Suddenly, the parapet portion of the roof collapsed and we lost him in front of our eyes in a matter of seconds. I don’t know why he smiled at me, and I didn’t do anything to please him,” Babu, who had a narrow escape, told TNIE.
While Babu, from Koppam in Andhra Pradesh, and Mani, from Salem in Tamil Nadu, were unhurt, two others — Banagaraswamy Naik and Sivaji Naik, also from Koppam — suffered injuries and were admitted to the Medical Trust Hospital.
It took a few minutes for both Babu and Mani to realise what was happening. According to the workers, a possible error in judging the weight of the parapet may have led to the accident. “Since we needed to demolish the walls to expand the drainage, we had erected four steel shorings to support the roof. But they were not strong enough. We had informed the supervisor about that just a few hours before the accident. But no one gave due consideration to it,” said Mani.
Since the contractor was experienced in doing similar work, they did not argue with him. “Had the contractor and the supervisor been more careful, the accident could have been avoided,” Babu said. Pointing his fingers towards the accident spot, the 32-year-old Babu added, “If I had taken a few seconds more to receive the mud, I too would have lost my life.”