Kolkata: "Move on. Don`t stop," shouted a
traffic policeman as pedestrians and drivers on Park Street
stopped and craned their necks for a glimpse of the fire-
ravaged Stephen Court building.
Most cars and taxis, as they approach the Middleton
Row crossing on the hip and happening street, tend to slow
down as the view of the blackened out heritage building loomed
in their windscreens.
"Even though the signal is green, the vehicles hardly
move on and we are finding it difficult to manage the traffic
after the road was thrown open on Wednesday," a traffic
policeman on duty said.
Three days after disaster struck the 150-year-old
building, people came and stood there wide-eyed as rescuers
continued their search for more bodies inside.
A group of foreigners hanging around the KFC and
Sourav`s -- two well-known gourmet joints opposite the Stephen
Court -- were seen pulling out their mobile phones and cameras
to take photographs of the landmark building.
"Such things rarely happen in my country. I will show
the photos to my folks back home," Andrew Hill, a young
visitor from the US told agency.
Krishnendu Gayen, a college student from Canning, who
had come to sit for an examination, was also awe-struck taking
photos. "We have no highrises in our area. I will take the
pictures of this devastation for my friends," he said.
Nearby roads were still barricaded and remained choked
with police vehicles and OB vans of television news channels.
Visitors to the spot, including students, officegoers,
young men and women who normally come to chill out at popular
hangouts on Park Street, stood dazed pointing towards the
charred upper floors and nylon ropes still hanging loose from
some balconies eloquently telling the story of those lucky few
who escaped the inferno.
"We are trying to figure out the pain and desperate
attempts of people to save their lives," said Rathindra Manna,
a middle-aged person.
"Our office-in-charge broke her hip after jumping from
the top of that AC machine," Rabi Chatterjee told a group of
people pointing to a window with a burnt air conditioner.
His company`s office was located on the third floor of
the ill-fated building.