Seven people were killed, 15 others injured and about 30 feared trapped when a five-storey residential building in the congested Bhendi Bazar area of south Mumbai collapsed on Thursday.
Some nine families lived in the dilapidated building, media reports said, adding that the structure also housed a play school but children had not arrived yet when the tragedy occurred.
The building, which also had six godowns on the ground floor, crumbled at around 8:30 a.m. It’s not clear if the heavy rains that inundated Mumbai this week had weakened the building, said to be some 50 years old, the reports pointed out.
What remained was a large mound of concrete rubble and steel rods encircled by other houses including what appeared to be a tall building. Rescue workers in hard hats clambered up the mound and hammered at concrete slabs with hammers to reach underneath. Cranes and bulldozers were also deployed to scoop up the debris. Residents helped with bare hands, reported PTI, adding that at least three people were pulled out alive.
“The exact number of trapped people cannot be known immediately,” Manoj Sharma, a deputy commissioner of police, reportedly said. But fire brigade officials said about 30 others are believed to be under the rubble.
“Our priority is to pull out at the earliest those trapped under the rubble of the dilapidated building,” Maharashtra Industries Minister Subhash Desai, who is also the guardian minister for Mumbai, was quoted as saying by PTI.
“Once the rescue work gets over, the government will conduct a probe to ascertain the factors behind the building collapse. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty,” he told reporters.
The disaster management cell of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) received a call about the collapse at 8.40 am. “We immediately rushed fire brigade personnel to the site to rescue the trapped people,” a senior MCGM official reportedly said.
A senior police official said seven persons, including an elderly couple, died and 13 others were injured in the incident. The injured were admitted to the J J Hospital. Their identity is being established, reported PTI.
A 45-member team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is carrying out the rescue operation with the help of fire brigade personnel. The injured were carried in stretchers before being transferred to white ambulances, the report said.
It is not known whether the building was on the list of dangerous structures under the MCGM limits. The incident occurred two days after the city was pummelled by torrential rains, which may have caused damage to the building, media reports said.