Seven people died and several others injured after a seven-storey residential building collapsed in Vakola area of Santacruz (East) at 11.45 am Friday. Slabs from the 31-year old building, called Shankar Lok, fell on the adjacent Catherine chawl.
Like Mumbra’s Lucky Compound collapse that killed 74 in April last year, this too was a pancake collapse, with the upper storeys crashing down upon each other.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had declared Shankar Lok a dilapidated and dangerous building and had been sending eviction notices since 2007. However, one family of three had refused to move out and had obtained a HC stay. Of the seven dead, one belonged to this family. The rest were residents of the adjacent chawl.
The BMC had also sent notices to the 25 families residing in Catherine Chawl adjacent to the building asking them to vacate their homes. “We had served notices to the residents of the chawl warning them that the building could fall anytime on their homes and cost them their lives,” said Ajit Ambi, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of H-East ward.
Two teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) stationed at Andheri Sports Complex comprising 65 personnel reached the spot at 1.30 pm with two sniffer dogs. The teams rescued five people. “No one else has been reported trapped and no more people are expected to be found. We will still keep on looking but will soon wind up,” said Alok Awasthy, Commandant, 5th Battalion of NDRF. Civic officials said the building was built by Shankar Sarin. In 1996, it was auctioned to Dadar-based Ashok Mastakar.
“I was preparing lunch when I saw the building collapse through my kitchen window. In a minute, the building was reduced to rubble and debris,” said Sunanda Kadam, resident of an adjoining building. “For the last seven years, slabs have been falling off regularly. We had complained to the owner, but he never did anything about it,” she said.
The Vakola police station has registered a case of accidental death. “We are awaiting the report from the BMC and if any negligence is proved, we will book the culprit,” said Zunjarrao Gharal, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Vakola.
Senior inspector Vinayak Mule was among the first to reach the scene. “I was on my rounds and had just crossed Shankar Lok when I received a call on the wireless about the collapse. I told the driver to turn around and reached the spot a minute after the building fell,” he said.