At least 23 people were killed and over 15 injured when a roof at a crematorium in Muradnagar, Ghaziabad district, collapsed on Sunday noon. Around 50 people were present for the cremation of Jai Ram, 55, a vegetable seller, and all those who died were his relatives or acquaintances.
The curved roof was built just two months ago over a path leading to the platform where cremations are performed. A senior police officer said the mourners were offering prayers when the structure collapsed, burying them under concrete. All the dead were men, and most of them belonged to Muradnagar’s Sangam Vihar area. Most of the injured are critical, a senior police officer said.
SP (Rural) Ghaziabad Iraj Raja said an FIR has been registered against Muradnagar Nagar Palika Executive Officer Niharika Singh, Junior Engineer Chandra Pal, contractor Ajay Tyagi, and ‘supervisor’ Ashish, under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (injury), 338 (grievous hurt), 427 (mischief) and 409 (criminal breach). “The cremation ground is the jurisdiction of Nagar Palika. We are probing why it collapsed,” the officer said.
District Magistrate Ajay Shanker Pandey said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered an inquiry. “We are looking at the technicalities of the construction, including the material being used,” he said, adding that the crematorium was still in the process of construction.
Jai Ram’s daughter Poonam said she lost her nephews, two cousins, neighbours and her son’s friends. “In my aunt’s family, there are no men, no breadwinners anymore. She lost her husband to cancer a few months back, her elder son last year, and two sons today,” she cried.
Poonam’s husband Krishan Pal, 45, a labourer, is admitted at MMG Hospital in Ghaziabad. “I was standing in a corner when the roof fell. I shouted for what seemed like hours to me at the time,” said Pal, who was brought out with the help of cranes by the rescue team that noticed his legs sticking out from the debris.
Udham Singh (25), Jai Ram’s neighbour, was among the first to be rescued. “The priest was just about to begin the rites when I saw something fall. A few slabs hit my shoulders first, and I crumbled. Then the other parts fell all over my body,” he said.
SDM Aditya Prajapati said the NDRF team had used three cranes for the rescue operations, which lasted five hours.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the families of victims, and wished those injured a speedy recovery.
Adityanath has announced financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh to kin of each of the deceased, and sought a report from the Divisional Commissioner of Meerut and ADG, Meerut Zone, on the matter.
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