Mumbai building collapse: Twelve dead in Ghatkopar tragedy, Shiv Sena leader booked

A four-storey residential building collapsed in suburban Ghatkopar on Tuesday morning, killing twelve people and injuring eleven other individuals.

The structure, Siddhi Sai Apartment, came down on at Ghatkopar's Damodar Park area and housed around 15 families. Search operations are still on to extricate the people feared trapped under the concrete rubble. IANS reports that at least 30 to 40 people are feared to still be trapped in the rubble.

"Until 9 pm, 23 people were extricated from under the rubble, out of whom twelve were declared dead while eleven injured have been admitted in various hospitals," said Mahesh Narvekar, Head, Disaster Management cell, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Most of those trapped in the debris are believed to be elderly and women. The civic body's control room received a call at around 10.43 am about the accident.

Fire engines, a rescue van and 108 ambulances were rushed to the spot immediately. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials were also deployed to address the incident. A total of 60 NDRF jawans along with sniffer dogs were pressed into service. According to an official, sniffer dogs helped in rescuing two people alive from under the debris.

According to the fire brigade officials engaged in the rescue operation, nearly 18 people have been pulled out of the debris so far and referred to nearby hospitals. Two of those rescued were firefighters Ganesh Khandge and his associate, who suffocated due to a gas leak while trying to rescue a woman, as reported by Hindustan Times. Temporary shelters were also arranged in municipals schools around the locality. The schools had facilities for food and water, but most of the victims chose to reside with their relatives.

The following are the victims of the building collapse:

Renuka Thak (3-months-old), Amruta Thak (31), Krishu Dongre (13), Pandarinath Dongre (75), Manorama Dongre (70), Sulakshana Khanchadani (80), Mikul Khanchandani (22), Kishore Khanchandani (50), Mansukhbhai Gujjar (75), Divya Paras Ajmeri (48), and Rutvi Pritesh Shah (14).

One of the most tragic victims of the collapsed was a 3-month-old baby, V Renuka Lalit. She was sent to Rajawadi hospital and pronounced dead there. Of the individuals admitted in Shantiniketan hospital, two died and four were discharged from the hospital. In Rajawadi hospital, five victims were pronounced dead and two were discharged after treatment.

 Mumbai building collapse: Twelve dead in Ghatkopar tragedy, Shiv Sena leader booked

File image of rescue operations being held in Ghatkopar. Image courtesy: Sanjay Sawant

Eyewitnesses said in the morning they heard a loud sound, similar to that of lightning since it is monsoon season. "Then I came out of my building and found a lot of dust, cries and noise of people seeking help. I saw parts of the building collapsing," an eyewitness living in the neighbourhood said to PTI.

IANS reports that the 40-year-old building was on BMC's list of "dangerous buildings." Identified in a structural audit by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, a DNA report states that such buildings were given permission for redevelopment.

The city and its suburbs had received heavy rains over the last several days, though there had been some respite since Monday with showers becoming intermittent.

The Mumbai Police cordoned off the Sanghani Junction area in Ghatkopar while traffic was blocked on the Lal Bahadur Shastri road to provide a 'green corridor' to rush the rescued to the hospital. The traffic from LBS Road was diverted to the Eastern Express highway due to this development.

A resident of the collapsed building, whose mother and two other family members are feared trapped in the debris, lamented that the chances of their survival are slim. Rajesh Diyora, a resident of the same building, said some commercial activity was being carried out on the ground floor and that might be the reason for the collapse of the building. He said he was saved as he had left for work before the building collapsed.

Locals also speculate that the building, which is allegedly owned by Shiv Sena leader Sunil Shitap, caved in due to renovation work being held by in the complex by the leader. Congress leader Pravin Chheda went on to tell ANI that Shitap was planning to run a guest house in the building, and hence the onus of the tragedy lies on him. Construction works were allegedly being undertaken on the ground floor of a nursing home in the building.

BMC Mayor, Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, initially said that officials are yet to ascertain the reason behind the building collapse in Ghatkopar, and said that an inquiry will be held regarding the allegation on Shitap. Shitap was later on Tuesday evening booked under sections 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).

Maharashtra's finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an enquiry into the issue. He added that those responsible for the tragedy "will not be spared."

Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has also announced an inquiry into the collapse of Saidarshan Apartment. Sources state that the report on the incident will be submitted in 15 days. The issue was also raised in the Maharashtra Legislative Council by Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap, reports the Financial Express.

A BMC report reveals that there are over 791 dilapidated buildings in Mumbai. In the C-1 category, which according to the reports comes under the 'Action against ruinous structures' category, there were about 186 demolished before the monsoon. 117 other structures have been evacuated, the report adds. However, there are still over 488 dilapidated buildings that citizens in Mumbai still reside in.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 26, 2017 15:24:55 IST