Police and rescue workers Wednesday pulled out bodies of two women who died after being trapped under the debris of a dilapidated three-storied residential building, which collapsed at Paturiaghat Street area of Jorabagan area in Kolkata Tuesday night.
The bodies of Sandhya Rai (44), mother of two school-going children, and Shweta Rai (40) were retrieved in a joint operation by the Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and fire brigade officials. The deceased are daughters-in-law of Kamla Prasad Rai, the owner of the house.
The building had earlier been declared “dangerous” by the KMC, yet six to seven families, including the owners, continued to live there. The building is situated only a few hundred metres away from the collapsed portion of the Vivekananda Road flyover.
According to locals, a small portion of the building caved in Tuesday evening due to heavy rains following which the inhabitants rushed out.
“Shweta and Sandhya, who were standing on the street, re-entered the building to retrieve some valuables left inside when another portion of the building crashed down, trapping them,” said Amol Prasad, a local who was present the spot.
According to sources, one of the trapped women also made a call to a family members seeking help. However, both had died by the time they could be rescued, police said, adding their bodies have been sent for postmortem examination.
The owners had rented out a major of the building, constructed in the 1960s, to several families and for commercial purposes, including running a cosmetics manufacturing unit. Sources said, last week a portion of the first floor had collapsed. An eatery used to function from the first floor.
On Tuesday, residents of the building had met local councillor (Ward 24) Ellora Saha seeking help in finding accommodation, a senior police officer said. “We are still clearing the place,” he said.
KMC sources said the state government is likely to hold a meeting on Thursday to decide on necessary steps to be taken to prevent such mishaps. According to KMC, there are around 2,400 old and ‘dangerous’ buildings in North and Central Kolkata. Civic authorities send evacuation notices to residents of such structures. “There are a huge number of cases where despite receiving the notices, people continue staying for months,” said a KMC official.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reportedly instructed the civic body to work out a plan to solve this problem.