The toll in the Bhiwandi building collapse incident reached 38 on Wednesday, with 17 of the deceased being children.
While 25 people have been rescued, search operations are still on to find a two-and-a-half-year-old child.
The Jilani building at Patel compound had collapsed around 3.15 am on Monday. The rescue operations have been on for over 66 hours. The congested locality, a precariously hanging slab and incessant rainfall had slowed the rescue work for the last two days.
Ashish Kumar, Deputy Commandant of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), said they were expecting to complete the rescue operation by 4 pm on Wednesday but heavy rainfall foiled their plans.
On Wednesday morning, NDRF and Thane Disaster Response Force officers managed to recover 12 more bodies from the debris.
The body of Parveen Qureshi, a mother of four, and her four-year-old daughter, were recovered in the morning. The hunt for Parveen’s two-and-a-half-year-old son is still on.
Parveen was one of the first ones to notice a crack on the building and alerted her husband and neighbours, helping rescue many.
However, when she returned to get her slippers with her two children, the building collapsed.
Mukhtar Qureshi, Parveen’s relative, said: “The final rites were completed by afternoon… Museb’s body is yet to be found. His father Shabbir, who hasn’t slept in the last three days, is camping outside the collapse site.”
Abdul Ansari, who lost his younger brother Haider, said: “Just eight days before the collapse, I and my two brothers had visited our native place at Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. Haider also wanted to come but as he was to awaiting a payment from a client, he stayed back. I wish he had come along.” Haider’s body was recovered around 3 pm on Wednesday.
Officials from Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation (BHNMC) said personnel have been deputed to conduct a physical inspection of the over 30-year-old building.
BHNMC Commissioner Pankaj Aashiya said, “So far, we have vacated four buildings near the Jilani building in the Patel compound. In two days, we will come up with a list of dangerous buildings. Accordingly, structural audits will be carried out and necessary action taken. We are expecting to finish this by next week.”
He added that a committee has been formed to probe the building collapse incident.
“Within seven days, we will have a report and action will be taken against those at fault. So far, only two civic officials have been suspended,” said Aashiya.
Narpoli police, which has registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, said builder Sayad Jilani, who had constructed the building, is likely in Uttar Pradesh. Senior Inspector M Shinde said: “A team has been sent to arrest him.”
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