Mumbai Dongri building collapse: Toll rises to 14 as rescue operations continue; number of casualties likely to rise, say BMC officials

The death toll in a building collapse in south Mumbai's congested Dongri locality has risen to 14, the NDRF said on Wednesday, even as rescue and search operation from the rubble was still underway.

Sachidanand Gawde, the PRO of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) battalion said the search and rescue operations continued the whole night and will continue through Wednesday. "It (search and rescue operations) will go on till the last piece of rubble is not removed from the spot," he said.

The official said his team members had been told that there were few customers at an eatery situated on the ground floor and no one knew the exact number of people that could have been present at the spot. "So our job is still left to rescue those men," he said.

 Mumbai Dongri building collapse: Toll rises to 14 as rescue operations continue; number of casualties likely to rise, say BMC officials

Fire Brigade and NDRF personnel carry out rescue works after the collapse of the four-storey Kesarbai building at Dongri in Mumbai. PTI

In a statement, Mumbai fire brigade chief PS Rahangdale said two kids, one aged between six-eight and the other aged about four, were rescued from under the debris by the firefighters. "Both kids were sent to Sir JJ hospital in 108 Ambulance, but they were declared dead," Rahangdale said, adding one fireman was also injured in the line of duty.

Mumbai police have made lightning arrangements to carry out rescue operation in the night. It has so far registered an Accidental Death Report (ADR) in connection with the mishap and will launch a detailed inquiry. An official from the BMC disaster management cell said three more bodies had been recovered early on Wednesday morning and had been sent to a nearby hospital, and awaiting doctors report about them.

"The death toll likely to up further," he said.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday announced compensation of Rs five lakh for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured, and said that all medical expenses of the injured to be borne by the state government.

Confusion prevails over responsibility for incident

In a letter written by the BMC to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in August 2017, the civic body had said that the building was to be evacuated for demolition at the earliest. ANI had further quoted the civic body as saying in the letter, "Please note that in the event of any mishap, this office won't be responsible for the same."

Locals said the building belonged to the MHADA. However, Vinod Ghosalkar, chief of MHADA repair board, said the building did not belong to the housing body.

The BMC, in the letter mentioned earlier, said that the building is a MHADA cess building (which means that it paid a cess, or tax, to MHADA, which is responsible for the building's repair and redevelopment, as explained in an article by Free Press Journal.)

Probe ordered

Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said he has asked the municipal commissioner to launch a probe in the incident on Tuesday.

TV channels showed dramatic visuals of a child, wrapped in a cloth bundle, being carried out of the debris by rescue workers. The child is alive, officials said.

The BMC has opened a shelter at Imamwada Municipal Secondary Girls' School after the building collapse, a civic official said. Legislator Bhai Jagtap said residents had complained to housing authorities to take prompt measures as the building was very old and in a dilapidated state for a long time. Scores of locals joined in the effort, forming a human chain to help in removing the debris brick by brick and picking up slabs of concrete to locate those buried.

Mumbai Police commissioner Sanjay Barve and BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi were among those who visited the site of the building collapse. Calling it an unfortunate incident, Pardeshi said, "Our first priority is the rescue operation."

Prime minister, Amit Shah expresses condolences to families of dead

Reacting to the incident, the Prime Minister's Office tweeted, "Collapse of a building in Mumbai’s Dongri is anguishing. My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I hope the injured recover soon. Maharashtra government, NDRF and local authorities are working on rescue operations and assisting those in need."

Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah also took to Twitter to offer his condolences.

Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said, "The accident in Dongri is a painful one. I pray to God to protect those are stuck in the debris. The process of redeveloping old buildings will only gain speed when arrangements are made for rehabilitating tenants. The government must do this."

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 17, 2019 11:00:04 IST