HALF OF a highly-dilapidated four-storey building in Kurla (East) collapsed late Monday, leading to the death of at least 19 residents. This happened on a day Mumbai witnessed this monsoon’s first day of heavy rainfall.
Rescue operations by the fire brigade and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) ended late Tuesday. The dead included 18 men and one woman. At least 13 residents of the building sustained injuries. Most of the residents were daily wage workers.
Late Tuesday, the police registered an FIR against the contractor of the workers. The contractor had allegedly put them up in the building.
The incident took place around 11.40 pm at Naik Nagar Society. The society comprises four buildings, all of which have been termed as dilapidated by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The building had four one BHK flats on every floor and the owners had either given the flats on rent or had locked the premises. The four flats on each floor were divided by a staircase. While half the building collapsed along with the staircase, the rest tilted and got stuck on the debris.
A water tank atop the building collapsed partially close to a nearby slum. However, no injuries were reported.
The slum dwellers and others rescued many residents of the building till the fire brigade arrived. Also, while those stuck on the third floor jumped eight to 10 feet down, others stuck on the fourth floor used sarees to rapple down on the debris.
The fire brigade arrived within 15 minutes of the collapse. Around 50 firemen, aided by 50 men from the NDRF, were part of the rescue operation. “We managed to rescue at least six persons Tuesday morning. Two of them were a woman and her son. We could not save the father,” said Ravindra Ambulgekar, Deputy Fire Officer.
“All occupants were aware that the building was highly dilapidated and were asked by the chairman of the society to vacate it by June 30,” said a resident. The occupants were scouting for a new place when the incident took place, said residents.
Former deputy municipal commissioner V V Shankarwar said, “In 2016, we had issued a notice that these buildings were dilapidated. But their auditor had given a statement that they were repairable. The building that collapsed was never repaired. The owners moved away and gave their houses on rent.’’
Former corporator Pravina Morajkar said, “This is a colony of four dilapidated buildings and the residents were given notices to vacate the premises five to six years ago.” Morajkar said the building was at least 50 years old. “A few months ago, the BMC cut electricity and water supply to the building. But the residents managed to get it restored illegally and continued to stay on…”
State ministers Aaditya Thackeray and Subhash Desai visited the spot on Tuesday. Desai announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation for kin of each victim.
Senior Inspector Chandrashekhar Bhabal of Nehru Nagar police station said, “We registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the contractor who had accommodated the labourers in the building knowing very well that it was dilapidated and can collapse.”