The death toll in the Solan building collapse rose from three to 14 on Monday as 11 more bodies, all of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) of 4th Regiment of Assam Rifles, were recovered in the last 24 hours. Around 28 persons were injured in the incident.
The building, Sahaj Tandoori Dhaba, situated at village Runan Gohro along the Kumarhatti-Nahan road had collapsed around 3.15 pm on Sunday. While ordering a magisterial probe into the incident, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur did not rule out the possibility of negligence on the part of local administration.
An FIR for death due to negligence was also registered against the owner of the building, Balbir Singh, alias Sahil, who lost his wife, Archna Devi, in the incident. The FIR was registered at Dharampur police station. Accused Balbir Singh had given out the lower portion of his building, on a lease of 11 months to a Patiala resident, Bhupinder Singh. Sahaj Tandoori Dhaba operated from this leased out portion.
Till Sunday midnight, three bodies including one of Archna Devi along with two other JCOs — Naib Subedar Raj Kishore, 49, Subedar Balvinder Singh, 59 — had been recovered. On Monday, 11 more bodies were pulled out.
The rescue operation carried out for over 24 hours by three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) along with the Army and the Solan district administration was called off at 3.30pm.
The eleven other Army personnel, who lost their lives, have been identified as Subedar Bishar Singh, Subedar Hem Kumang, Naib Subedar Nabin Chandra, Subedar Kumar Chorai, Subedar Surjit Sharma, Subedar Rajan Bahadur, Subedar Lalson Vaiphe, Subedar Yogesh Kumar, Subedar Major Pardeep Chand, Subedar Ajit Kumar, and Naib Subedar Vinod Kumar.
IN PICS | Building collapses in Solan
CM Thakur said, “I have ordered a magisterial probe in the incident. I have not ruled out the possibility of negligence on the part of local administration. Such incidents are big blows. An FIR against the owner of the building was also registered. Immediate relief of Rs 20,000 for victims who lost their lives, Rs 10,000 for those who received critical injuries, and Rs 5,000 for those with minor injuries, was released expect to the kin of 13 Army personnel, who were not present here. The monetary relief to them will released through defence authorities.”
Solan Deputy Commissioner K C Chaman said, “The bodies of all 13 Army personnel were handed over to the Army authorities after the postmortem at Maharishi Markandeshwar Medical College and Hospital on Monday. Body of Archna Devi was handed over to her husband.”
The building collapsed when almost 47 people, including 35 Army personnel, five dhaba employees, a bunch of routine customers and wife of building owner, Archna Devi, were present there. Owner Balbir Singh, who lived on the top floor with his family, had Sunday gone to Rajgarh in Sirmaur district, while his two children — Aditya, 11, and Arnav, 7 — had gone out to play with their friends at the time of the collapse.
Injured cook Satbir Singh said, “The Army personnel had already booked two rooms, which were located in the basement. They were having snacks in these rooms and some of of them were at the ground floor. I was in the kitchen along with another cook Paramjeet Singh. The kitchen of the dhaba was located on the ground floor. Suddenly, there was loud noise and the building shook. I thought it was an earthquake. Paramjeet Singh and I rushed outwards, but took a hit. We were rescued by locals.”
Naib Subedar S K Tripathi, who was unhurt in the incident, said, “All JCOs present there and five others had left the cantonment area with the due permission of seniors and after obtaining Out Passes from the authorities.”
A senior Army officer requesting anonymity said, “JCOs occasionally go outside the cantonment area for outing with the due permission. These visits usually last for small periods. I learnt from one of the JCOs that among 30 of them there were two, who had been recently promoted, and some of them were going to retire shortly.”