Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lady gets fingers back.

Renata Fontana, a 28-year-old Brazilian who was seriously injured when the porch of Astoria Hotel, Churchgate, collapsed on her on Friday afternoon, might just get her two severed fingers back because of the sheer presence of mind of two police inspectors and a marathon hour-long operation launched by police and fire brigade personnel to search out the fingers crushed under the debris.

Assistant police inspector Anil Katkade and sub-inspector V A Utekar of Marine Drive police station rummaged through the ruins of the porch for almost an hour along with 25 fire brigade personnel and some constables to find the fingers and, after placing them securely in an ice-box, sent them to Bombay Hospital immediately so that doctors could try and re-attach them.

Inspectors Anil Katkade and V A Utekar

A team of firemen begin looking for Renata Fontana's fingers. Under a pile of debris, they knew it would be like looking for a pin in a haystack
The operation is streamlined as officers realise people walking all over the debris could damage the severed fingers
Dr Parag Munshi, orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, was carrying out an operation to fix the fingers at the time of going to press.

Fontana, an international tax law expert staying at the hotel with a friend of hers, was talking to her Italian friend Sylvia under the porch when it caved in, trapping the two women and two hotel staffers. Two fingers of Fontana's left hand -- the middle and the ring finger -- were chopped off by a slab, while she suffered multiple fractures to her legs and her pelvic bone.

The two inspectors, who arrived at the spot while the four injured persons were being put into an ambulance, saw that Fontana's fingers had been cut off. Katkade immediately told his colleague Utekar that if they could find the fingers quickly, they could still be saved.

That, however, was going to be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack because the debris lying on the floor was huge.

A few clues -- mainly blood stains -- emerge. The search is now narrowed down and a smaller team begins sifting through the debris
As soon as the first finger is located, a team member quickly organises an ice box to preserve it
As soon as the first finger is located, a team member quickly organises an ice box to preserve it
Katkade and Utekar alerted their constables at the spot and at the same time asked the firemen who had pulled out the victims for help.

The police and fire squads then began carefully searching through the pieces of concrete strewn all over, taking care at every step, lest they place their foot at the wrong spot. They decided to look for blood-stains since the fingers could be somewhere close to these and finally found them under a small piece of concrete. They were assisted in their task by a friend of Fontana's.

"We moved every little piece carefully as we knew the fingers would have been soiled and it could be hard to spot them in the pile of debris," Katkade said.

Katkade then quickly arranged for an ice-box. The fingers were wrapped in a sheet of plastic and placed in the box to prevent further damage and infection and were sent to Bombay Hospital.

Sylvia and the two hotel staffers, watchman Jagdish Patel, 45, and office boy Snehal Kap, 26, have suffered minor injuries. While Sylvia is undergoing treatment at Bombay Hospital, Patel and Kap have been admitted to GT Hospital.

Police said the building is over 100 years old and the porch was not part of the original structure but was added later.

The hotel authorities, however, maintain it was regularly repaired and there were no cracks showing any sign of it collapsing.


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