One person died and another sustained injuries after a vacant building collapsed on an adjacent residential property near Rizvi College at Bandra West on Monday night.
The deceased, Bruce DePenha (41), was rescued late Monday from under the debris but died before he could be taken to a hospital.
According to eyewitnesses, DePenha died when he had come to pick up his laptop that he had given for repair at a shop located on the ground floor of Hardik Villa, the residential building.
At the time of the incident, 14 people were inside the shop, including DePenha and another customer. “I heard a cracking noise and within a second, a huge portion of the building fell on the compound wall, blocking and damaging our shop’s main door and reception. DePenha was standing at the reception at the time of the collapse and got stuck under debris. The other customer sustained minor injuries,” said Zaheer Shaikh, who works at the shop, Sharp Computing Systems.
Local residents said that Bharti building, which was vacant, crashed on the rear portion of the four-storey of Hardik Villa, damaging three to four shops, a few vehicles parked on the access road and the compound wall.
Dr V Ravishankar, CEO of Lilavati Hospital, said, “The deceased was brought dead to the hospital. With no pulse and blood pressure not recordable, we tried to revive him by giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation for almost 45 minutes but in vain.”
DePenha’s wife Janet was waiting in the car outside Hardik Villa when the accident happened. They had got married two years ago.
The other injured person, Arjun Pandit (25), works as a security guard and lives Hardik Villa’s ground floor. He is under treatment at Bhabha hospital.
According to the BMC disaster management cell, the three-storey C wing of Bharti building had been unoccupied for over two decades. “Construction of the building was stopped years ago due to some dispute,” said an official from BMC.
While Bharti building was constructed in 1992, Hardik Villa came up in the early 1980s, said BMC.
While the civic body had vacated Hardik Villa on Monday as a precautionary measure, its residents returned on Tuesday, as there was no significant damage to the structure.
“We are still removing debris and may be done by tomorrow. As of now, we have allowed residents to stay but once debris are cleared, we will again inspect the structure,” said Vinayak Vispute, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of H West (Bandra).
Asked why Bharti building was not demolished and whether it was illegal, Vispute said: “We will hold a meeting with officials of the building proposal department to get details. So far, we have learnt that it was a legal structure. However, the building proposal department is finding out why work was stopped and who were the builder and the architect. Preliminary information suggests the structure was under litigation.”
The department is set to submit a detailed report on the structure in a couple of days.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray visited the accident site on Tuesday. Zeeshan Siddique, Congress MLA from Bandra East, said a detailed inquiry should be conducted on why Bharti building was not demolished if it remained unoccupied for years.
— Inputs from Tabassum Barnagarwala
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