KOCHI: A 13-year-old boy was killed and his 82-year-old grandfather suffered serious injuries when the first floor of their double-storied house collapsed at Keezhillam near Perumbavoor in Kerala's Ernakulam district on Thursday.
The deceased is identified as Harinarayanan, a native of Rayamangalam panchayat, South Paruthivayalippady. His grandfather, Narayanan Namboodiri, who suffered head injuries, was admitted to the intensive care unit of Rajagiri Hospital in Kochi.
The boy's sister Devika, who was sleeping on the first floor of the house, had a narrow escape as no major damage happened to it even if after hitting the floor. According to the fire and rescue officials, the incident occurred in the morning around 7.30 when the four walls of the ground floor collapsed to the floor.
The fire and rescue teams and the police used three earth movers to recover the stranded people inside the house. "It was after lifting the house with earthmovers that we were able to enter the house. The boy was lying on the sofa in the hall and was unconscious when we recovered him. The elderly person was lying on the coat in the bedroom with severe injuries on his head," said Joshi BC, a grade assistant station officer who was part of the rescue mission.
Fortunately, other members of the family, including Harinarayanan’s mother, father, and siblings, were at their ancestral property at the time of the accident. "Only the boy and his grandfather were on the ground floor. The girl was on the first floor. They have ancestral property adjacent to the house and most of them were there at the time of the accident," said a police officer.
Locals rushed to the scene after hearing a loud noise and rescued the stranded girl, and later informed the fire & rescue team and the police. "The residents in the neighbourhood rescued the girl. Since no damage happened to the first floor of the house, she escaped unhurt," Joshi added.
Meanwhile, the fire & rescue team suspect that the continuous rain might have resulted in the weakening of the four walls, which were constructed using bricks. " Though the house was constructed using bricks, there were no pillars to support the concrete roof. The continuous rain may have weakened the bricks and that might have ended up in the disaster. We need to investigate more to find the exact reason behind the accident," said another officer with the fire and rescue department.
Cancelled tuition class, refusal to drink tea kept him indoors
“Had there been a tuition class as usual, he would have left the house around 6.30am and we might not have lost him,” said Eeshwaran Namboodiri when his son Harinarayanan’s body was brought home for the last rites. Thursday being a holiday, on account of Karkkidakavavu, there was no tuition session either. “He woke up around 6.30am. Since tuition was cancelled, he decided to remain indoors. Though we usually have tea together, he refused to take his as he wanted to sleep. I never imagined he was going to sleep forever,” said his father, inconsolable.
Only his grandfather, Narayanan, who suffered head injuries, was with him on the ground floor when the accident happened. “My wife, younger daughter and I were having tea outside our house. My brother, who is staying with me, was also not at home. Within seconds, the house collapsed with a loud noise. We couldn’t see anything because of the dust. It took a bit of time for us to understand what was going on,” Eeshwaran said.
They had constructed the house using laterite blocks nearly 10 years ago. “We found that the laterite blocks are not mature enough to be used to build walls. That may have resulted in the weakening of the structure,” said an engineer who visited the site.Though the blocks are believed to be good for construction, some can be dangerous, he pointed out.“Only solid ones can be used for construction. But due to their scarcity, no one is bothered about quality,” the engineer said.
The rescue personnel too said they had detected some water leakage from the pipes.“The water absorbing capacity is higher for the laterite stone compared to others . That might have created pressure on the pillars and weakened the blocks,” said a fire and rescue officer who was involved in the rescue efforts.
(With inputs from Anilkumar T)