The City Light hotel which collapsed on Monday morning had shown several signs of dilapidation in the past. In fact, on Sunday night, a few hours before it came down, some workers noticed cracks in the wall, followed by some bricks falling down. Strangely, the 80-year-old building does not feature in the municipal corporation’s list of dilapidated or dangerous buildings.
L Sudhakar (30), a waiter at the hotel who survived the accident with leg injuries, pointed out that there was something wrong with the building on Sunday night itself, but no one really took it seriously. “It was about 8 pm that the wall near the counter developed cracks and some bricks fell off, damaging the glass window. We all knew that the building was really old, but no one took it seriously,” said Sudhakar, who has been working there for the last two months.
Sudhakar is a native of Hydershahkot village in Rajendernagar mandal. “I was washing utensils and then sweeping the floors. It was almost done and I was climbing down the stairs when the building came down falling,” he said. According to him, it was only his fate that saved his life. “I was stuck under a huge concrete slab and had a little bit of space to breath with the rest of my body covered by debris. I kept on screaming for help and in two hours time, they pulled me out,” he said.
Kishore, who runs a business opposite the hotel, recollected some of the workers complaining of bricks falling out of the walls. “Usually, huge banners are put up before the start of Ramzan, advertising sale of haleem. Those workers had also noticed that the building was indeed weak,” he said.
Newspaper saved life
A GHMC truck, which was stationed outside the building to collect trash, also had three contract workers and the driver injured. However, T Suresh, one of the workers escaped without a scratch, as he was sent by the driver to buy a newspaper.
“Usually we come in the morning by 6.30 and collect 60-70 buckets of trash from City Light hotel. On Monday morning, the work was going on as usual. But, my driver asked me to go and purchase a newspaper and meanwhile a major portion of the building fell on the truck,” said Suresh, a contract worker and a resident of Warasiguda.
However, truck driver B Sailu Veeraiah sustained injuries to his back, face and abdomen. Incidentally, he was scheduled to undergo a surgery on Monday. “There was heavy noise and I just thought that it was heavy rain. But some portion of the building came falling on us,” said Veeraiah, a resident of Ranganagar, Musheerabad.
“Three of our men were collecting trash and I was sitting inside the truck when the incident took place,” he said, adding, “I am not a contract worker. I am a permanent employee with 29 years of experience.”
His son Parasuram, a GHMC contractor, said, “We received a call informing us about the incident at around 6.40 am. By 7, the GHMC workers were rescued as they were not inside.”