KOLKATA: Call it a miraculous escape from the falling debris of an under-construction flyover, or a stroke of luck or sheer destiny, Sheikh Mortaza can't help thanking his stars.
It was just like any other day for the 50-year-old, a native of Atmakur village of Andhra Pradesh's Kurnool district, when he was returning to his Central Kolkata office after unloading a truckful of ginger at the Posta wholesale market.
"I was waiting there for the 'No Entry' board to be removed from that zone when all off a sudden I saw a huge mass coming down from the top. I did not realise that it was the under-construction flyover. The sound was like an explosion... Without understanding much I instinctly tried to duck below my seat. After that I do not remember anything," Mortaza told PTI from his bed at the Emergency ward of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital today.
Not only Mortaza had a big escape but there was also not a single scratch on his body.
The truck, bearing registration number AP21TZ0696, was travelling from Karnataka with two helpers — Yasin Ahmed and Rajak — from Andhra Pradesh on the back of the vehicle.
Rajak, a resident of Nandikotkur, is being treated for broken arm, while Yasin trapped inside the truck has died there.
Armymen, along with other rescue operation units were still trying to cut the iron piers and vehicle to bring out Yasin's body, a senior officer of Kolkata Police said.
Feeling sad for Yasin, Mortaza, a father of two, however, can't stop thanking his stars for the new lease of life.
"I became unconscious and when regained my senses I found that the door of my truck was not there... I climbed out of the vehicle and then pulled out of the rubbles by the rescue operators," he said.
Asked whether he has spoken with his family members in Andhra Pradesh, Mortaza said,"I have lost my mobile in the mishap and not getting my number they called up one of my friends who works for the same transport company... And then I spoke to my wife who was sobbing uncontrollably.
"The first thing I will do now is to head back to my home in Andhra Pradesh. Only then I will be totally fit. I need some time to spend with them (my family)," Mortaza said.
Incidentally, the another helper of the truck, Nirmal, a local youth, who was standing beside the parked vehicle, also had a miraculous escape.
"Nirmal sensed something before boulders came crashing down and managed to move away thus escaping a sure death," Sheikh Munna, proprietor of the transport company for which Mortaza and others were working for the last ten years, said.
"It does not bother whether my vehicle is stuck there or not, whether I will get money from the insurance company or from anybody else or not, but what matters to me the most is that I have lost one of my men. Still I am consoling myself that not all have lost their lives," Munna said.