Extreme age, heavy rain and its load-bearing structure are among the factors that may have caused the Husaini building in Bhendi Bazaar to collapse on Thursday, according to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
The NDRF, which led the search and rescue operations after the collapse in which 33 people were killed, observed that the 117-year-old building was constructed in an outdated manner and did not include Reinforced Concrete Columns (RCC) like modern structures.
“From what we have been told, the building was initially two storeys high and was built using iron beams on each floor. After a while, more floors were added,” said Mahesh Nalawade, Deputy Commandant, 5th Batallion NDRF.
Nalawade added that over the decades, the beams could not support the weight of the building as residents made necessary repairs to the structure and modifications to the floors and ceilings of their homes.
“Rains also weaken a structure over time and there had been heavy showers in the city on Tuesday. This causes cracks in the building, which open and close due to exposure to rain and heat,” he said.
While searching through the rubble for survivors, Nalawade said he noticed that several of the iron beams were rusted and twisted, indicating that they could no longer support the weight of the building.
Anupam Shrivastav, Commandant, 5th Batallion NDRF, said his personnel engaged in the operations had to take tetanus vaccines due to the presence of large quantity of rusted metal in the building’s remains. “A lot of my men got scratches due to the iron beams,” he said.
Shrivastav added that unlike Ghatkopar’s Siddhi Sai apartments, which collapsed in July, Husaini building was not constructed with hard material.
“There were no RCC columns. It was an old-fashioned building and a load-bearing structure,” he said.