Yesterday night was *really* surreal. As we were about to sleep at 2ish in the night. We heard aloud crash, with two or three huge blasts. and we saw a tanker rammed against a tree on the side of the highway. We could hear lot of HISSSSSSSSSSS sounds. The tanker was on the other side of the highway.
Vehicles were passing by the accident, and we also saw two people going towards the tanker. As we were watching events unfolding in disbelief, Smita pointed to a a white carpet formed on the the nalla that our bedroom oversees. And we could see the white carpet moving and spreading along the channel. Though we could not smell it then, but it clear that something was definitely was not right. That time I had thought that the accident must have opened up some pipeline, but as it turned out later it was not the case.
And in the mean time we saw another tanker pass by this one. And then we could smell the gas, being on the second floor, it took its time to come till there. And we thought of calling the fire brigade….
Then suddenly, BOOOOMMMMMM….
The fireball unfolded before our eyes. And it sort of came towards us, as they show in the movies….
It must be about 10 stories high, the overhead wires of the huge towers, also sparked…
The entire building was shivering from the blast, windows making sounds, and the room became too bright even without the lights on….
Fortunately the window panes were not shattered, neither the flames reached us….
The enitre nalla was on fire, it was as if we were seeing a river of fire…
The trees were burning, and quite long way along the nalla the fire had spread….
The immediate reaction was to run out, as we thought the building would itself catch fire, given the intensity of the fire that rages.
And as we were going out, all other people who were just awakened by the sound and vibrations and the fire, were getting out too, most of them not knowing what had happened…
Many, as we came to know later, locked themselves out in panic, fortunately we left the door open. As we were running down the stairs, heavy smell of LPG was omnipresent…
What I had feared was that the ground floor parking itself might be at risk, fortunately the wall along the nalla, prevented the gas coming to the parking.
People were just coming out of their houses and pouring on the streets…
And in the meanwhile we could hear more blasts in the fire that was raging…..
Lot of people from Mankhurd village started to pour in as well, and some went crossing the road to witness it.
I was really impressed by the response time of the fire brigade, within 5 minutes they were already there. And they dared for their lives as they fought the inferno raging… Tt took them few hours to bring the fire under control.
Then the police came in and the crowds were dispersed and the road was cordoned off to traffic, which it is still so as late as afternoon.
And the water tankers were just too many to count…
We came back to our room around 5ish, the fire was still raging, but in control.
It was only in the morning that we saw the extent of the damage. Most of the ramp leading to the nalla was burnt. And many trees also were burnt. Some of the manhole covers which open in the nalla were thrown out of their place, and most of the grass that grows in the nalla was blown out…
And we also came to know how fortunate we were, most of the inital blast and subsequent fires were contained in the concrete walls of the nalla. So only way they could go is up.
And then all the questions of what could have been….
If at all the tanker had fallen on this side of the road, just next to our house, then?
If the tanker had not fallen in the nalla, but just on the road then?
And if the blast would have occurred when the other tanker was passing by, then?
Or if the blast had occurred after, 20-30 minutes, of the accident, and gas spreading to a large area then?
Had the fire spread to the building then…
This experience just showed how fragile we and our constructs are, and all we have can be wiped out by just a freak event…
Smita and D
Some photos here:
The tree on which the tanker slammed (taken in the morning):
The Compound that saved us
Calling for help
On and below the Bridge
Below the bridge (in night)
Below the bridge (in day) tanker can be still seen, and they were watering it still…
(Last one from our kitchen)
PS: this report tells that the fire also spread the nearby slums, which were on the otherside of the road.
Though I think there is a strict control over the flow of the news, as the event is not showing up at most news sites.