Raigad Maharashtra, (IANS) Four-year-old Mohammed N. Bangi was pulled out amid cries of joy and applause on Tuesday afternoon from under the rubble of a five-storey building that collapsed a day earlier in Mahad town, police officials said.
Even as desperate teams of NDRF, SDRF, Raigad Police and Mahad fire brigade dug into the rubble to detect and dig out the trapped victims, early on Tuesday morning, the rescuers noticed the movement of a tiny leg between two broken pillars with tonnes of debris dangerously strewn all around, and one NDRF man rushed to pull him out.
Just then, Mohammed responded with a cry, indicating he was alive and apparently well, which was heartening for the rescue teams, said a Raigad Police official at the site.
The teams immediately swung into action and using metal cutters, they managed to slice through the pillars, carefully shifting the debris around using JCBs and finally reached the terrified, crying boy lying beneath.
The NDRF personnel bent to lift him up from the dark hole, and Mohammed emerged into the daylight, bewildered, and blinking his eyes, crying with relief and joy, and wailing for his 'Ammi' and 'Abbu' (mother and father).
"The 'Miracle Boy" has been rescued alive. He is God's child," said NDRF director-general Satya Narayan Pradhan, after Mohammed's safe rescue.
Late on Tuesday, the Raigad district authorities confirmed that Mohammed's mother Nausheen, 30, sisters Ayesha, 7, and Rukaiya, 2, had perished in the tragedy, though details of other family members are not available.
When the large crowds that had gathered around got the first glimpse of the child as the jawans hoisted him on their arms, there was a thunderous applause - both for the child and his saviours.
Some of the people present were seen shedding tears of joy at the sight and others raised a chorus of 'Ganpati Bappa Morya' - as the state is both celebrating Ganeshotsav and observing Muharrum.
Many were heard profusely thanking the 'Vignarharta' (Remover of Obstacles) Lord Ganesha for ensuring that the little Muslim boy emerged unscathed from the hell-hole where he spent a horrifying 18 hours in total darkness, without food or water, missing his near and dear ones, and uncertain of his own fate.
A Mumbai resident Suresh Bhaskaran, who watched the operation on TV, said with moist eyes that he "felt very relieved and happy" and was even reminded of the operation when a little boy Prince was rescued from a dry borewell in Haryana (July 2006).
Mohammed was rushed to a hospital, and seems to have escaped the tragedy with a few bruises and minor injuries. He was given a proper bath, some liquids and light food and is currently under observation.
Rupasa, the little's boy anxious aunt, confirmed that at least 3 of his relatives including his mother and two sisters) are still trapped under the rubble. "I pray to Almighty for everyone's survival," she said.
Mahad town - with a population of around 22,000, including around 5,000 Muslims - was left stunned on Monday evening when the building came crashing down in seconds.
There were around 100 people residing in the building out of which around 8 were brought out dead, 8 injured and the rest, including Mohammed, were rescued.
Locals were all praise for the untiring and zealous efforts by all the national, state and local rescue teams who literally left no brick unturned in the rubble as they searched for victims.