DHARWAD: As she lies in a bed with her eyes wide open, Prema Unkal is murmuring only one sentence: “Yes, let's go.” It's the same line that she told her eight-year-old daughter repeatedly when the two were buried under the debris of the building that crumbled in Kumareshwar Nagar, Dharwad, on Tuesday. Prema (40) was pulled out 33 hours after she got trapped under the rubble. Her daughter, Divya, could not survive the ordeal. Divya's body was recovered by the team of the National Disaster Response Force on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking to TNIE, Prema recalled with horror and grief how she comforted her daughter during the agonising hours. “I told her that we shall go out soon. Divya kept saying 'let’s go', and I continued to reassure her. I am not sure when we stopped talking or how we got separated. But when I was rescued, my daughter was not with me,” she sobbed.
“We were totally cut off from the outer world. There was no place for me to move and easily reach my daughter. There was no water. I licked my leather bag to make my tongue wet as I was unable to speak. I didn't know for how long I was stuck there. Someone suddenly touched my head and I realised that the rescue team members had arrived. When I came out, I saw my son, Shrikant, standing there,” she recalled. Prema's family members have not yet informed her about her daughter's death.
“I thought I was dreaming. When the incident happened, it appeared that the earth below me opened up and we went inside. It took us some time to realise that the building fell on us. I heard loud screams initially from the neighbouring blocks and people calling for help and asking for water. As time passed, I heard people invoking Gods and asking for forgiveness. I was unable to judge whether it was day or night as it was pitch dark and cement powder kept falling on us,” she said.
Prema had gone to the building with her friend and daughter. When they were coming out of the complex, they suddenly got covered in dust. "We were left confused. Suddenly, a wall came crashing down. Divya started screaming. We tried to communicate with each other by pressing hands. We were surrounded by darkness and dust," she recalled.