In yet another tragic incident, at least two people were dead and five others injured after a four-storey building collapsed in Bhiwandi area of Maharashtra's Thane district on Saturday. The deceased were identified as Shiraz Ansari (26) and Mohammad Akib Shaikh (27), according to officials. While 4 people have been rescued so far, several more are feared trapped inside the building. The injured also include two firemen and were rushed to a local hospital. The search and rescue operations were underway when the last reports came in.
The structure, which stood in Shanti Nagar locality of Bhiwandi, crashed at around 1:30 am on Saturday, leading to panic and anxiety among people in and around the area. Sources, however, said that the Municipal Corporation reached the spot even before the incident as they received a message that column of the establishment might dismantle. However, some people entered the building without permission and became the victim of the tragedy. Notably, the building, named 'Manahara', was an eight-year-old construction and built illegally.
Maharashtra: Rescue operations continue at the building collapse site in Bhiwandi. The incident has claimed lives of 2 people so far. pic.twitter.com/hSLXoVlmn5— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2019
Speaking to the reporters, Ashok Rankhamb, the Commissioner of Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation, said, "Our emergency team reached here and after examination they found that the building might collapse".
"We vacated the entire building but some people entered the building without permission. It was then the building collapsed. It's an 8-year-old building and was built illegally. Investigation will be done," Rankhamb added.
Santosh Kadam, chief of Regional Disaster Management Cell (RDMC) of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), said, "On Friday night, some residents noticed cracks in the structure, following which evacuation process was initiated post-midnight".
"However, even after the evacuation, some residents returned to the building, after which it collapsed around 1.30 am. Two persons died in the crash and their bodies were recovered from the debris," he added.
In view of the crash alert, teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Thane Disaster Response Force (TDRF), fire brigade and others launched a rescue operation in the building. Work of clearing the debris is still on and some more people are feared to be trapped, Kadam concluded.
While Maharashtra has thousands of glitzy buildings and structures, including the Mumbai international airport and the Worli Sealink, there are many more colonial era apartments, residential complexes and public infrastructure such as bridges and roads that are in dilapidated condition. As per a civic report, there are 978 buildings in Bhiwandi which have been declared as dangerous.
On July 17, a building collapse in south Mumbai's congested Dongri locality claimed 11 lives while more than 40 people were trapped under the debris. Same month, over 20 people were killed in multiple incidents of wall collapses in the city's worst monsoon rains in the last 14 years.
In March, five persons were killed and 29 injured after a section of a foot overbridge outside Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus collapsed during rush hour. And in July last year, the pedestrian section of the Gokhale bridge in Andheri bridge collapsed, killing two people.
Tragedies such as Saturday's, especially in illegal and unauthorised establishments, are all too common in and around Mumbai, India's largest city by population with 22.5 million people.