Bhiwandi building collapse: At least 16 people, including eight children, were killed after a portion of a three-storey building in Bhiwandi, 50 km from Mumbai, collapsed early Monday.
As many as 20 people were pulled out of the rubble by rescue workers. Officials believe 26 people are still trapped.
Commissioner of Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation, Pankaj Aashiya, said rescue operations are likely to continue on Tuesday for which back-up teams have been called from Mumbai and Pune.
Officials from the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation said the building was structurally unstable and notices had been served to the residents in the past but they refused to vacate it.
“The whole structure is illegal. We have learnt the original structure of ground-plus-one floor was constructed as a powerloom in the 1980s, when a gram panchayat governed the area. However, the other two floors were constructed around 12 years ago after the corporation was created and we have learnt the builder did not take any permission,” Aashiya said.
The latest notice to vacate the structure was served on the residents in February. However, most residents, who were staying in the building because of low rents, were not willing to move out.
On the complaint of the corporation, the Narpoli police registered a case under sections 337, 338 and 304 (II) (culpable homicide) against the builder, Sayad Jilani. “We are yet to arrest him,” said senior police inspector M B Shinde.
Urban Development Minister and Thane Guardian Minister Eknath Shinde announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and said an inquiry will be conducted into the collapse. According to him, a total of 102 dangerous buildings in Bhiwandi have already been vacated.
According to the survivors, the structure started shaking at 3.15 am after which a portion collapsed.
Officials said as many as 24 houses collapsed in which around 62 people were said to be staying. “We enquired from people staying in the neighbouring building and also those rescued. They told us two flats were empty and a rescue operation to locate everyone living in the remaining flats is on,” Aashiya said.
A joint operation by the local residents, National Disaster Response Force, Thane Disaster Rescue Force and Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation was launched to find survivors and clear the debris.
Tariq Khan, a first-floor resident of the building whose elder brother Shahid was rescued 10 hours after the incident, said, “When the building started shaking, I stepped out to see what was happening. However, before I could make out what was happening, a portion collapsed before my eyes and we were surrounded in a cloud of dust.”
The injured were rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial hospital in Bhiwandi while the survivors were taken to hospitals in Kalwa, Thane and Mumbai.
Another resident Anees Qureshi said, “While we were in our houses, a woman knocked on our door to inform us that the building is shaking. Because of her alertness, my family members and I rushed downstairs and were saved.”
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