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Called him many times, but learnt about his death later: Kin of cabbie who died in hoarding collapse

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NewsDrum Desk
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Mumbai, May 14 (PTI) The family members of a 48-year-old taxi driver frantically called him around a hundred times after they came to know that he was trapped under a fallen billboard in Mumbai's Ghatkopar area, but their hopes got dashed after the doctors later told them that he was killed in the incident, his relative said.

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The deceased taxi driver, Mohammad Akram, was the sole breadwinner of the family comprising him, his wife and a minor daughter.

A 120 x 120 square feet illegal hoarding fell at a petrol pump in Ghatkopar during dust storms and unseasonal rains that lashed Mumbai on Monday. The incident claimed the lives of at least 14 persons, including Akram, and left 75 others injured.

Talking about the incident, Akram's cousin Majeed Sheikh said, "He drove a taxi for a living. On the day of the incident, he went to fill CNG at the petrol pump in Ghatkopar with passengers seated in his vehicle. At that time, he met another taxi driver whom he knew well and started chatting with him by standing outside his taxi." "Just after his taxi driver friend left the petrol pump, the huge billboard collapsed there. Seeing it, that friend started calling Akram, but as he did take the call, he immediately called Akram's wife to inform her about the incident and tell her that her husband was trapped under the hoarding," Sheikh said.

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Panicked, she also called Akram several times, but there was no response. She then informed his cousin Sheikh about it, he said.

"We first rushed to Thane from Badlapur and later reached Ghatkopar, the site of the billboard collapse. There, we saw police and civic officials pulling out the victims from the debris and injured persons being taken to hospitals. We were told that several injured persons and the bodies of the deceased were taken to the Rajawadi Hospital," he said.

Sheikh said when he and others reached the hospital, they were told that Akram has died, and asked them to take his body the next day.

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"Accordingly, we took his body from the hospital to our home today," he said.

The story of another taxi driver, Satish Singh (52), is similarly tragic.

"On the day of the incident, Singh picked up passengers from Nalasopara and dropped them at Kurla. After that, he stopped at the Ghatkopar pump to fill the CNG on his way back to Nalasopara," his family member Surendra Singh said.

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But when he did not return home till late night and as he could not be contacted since his mobile phone was switched off, his family members got worried, he said.

"We came to know about the incident in Ghatkopar. We reached there around 1.30 am, and we saw the police personnel pulling his body out of the taxi. He was declared dead at the Rajawadi hospital," Singh said.

He was survived by three children and wife. He was the only earning member of the family, he said, and urged the government to provide help to his family members. PTI ZA NP

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