Building collapse in Mumbai's Dongri leaves 10 dead, eight injured; narrow lanes delay rescue work, probe ordered

FP Staff

At least 10 people were killed after a four-storey residential building collapsed around noon in south Mumbai's congested Dongri area on Tuesday, trapping over 40 people under the debris.

The Kesarbai building was located in a bustling narrow lane in Tandel Street of the Dongri area in south Mumbai, Maharashtra housing minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said. Some part of the building was left standing after the collapse.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) released a list of the deceased and injured:

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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."

However, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the structure was not in the list of dilapidated buildings and was given to a developer for redevelopment.

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.

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.

"A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is reaching the spot. We are assuming that 10 to 12 families are still under the debris," Mumbadevi MLA Amin Patel told reporters at the spot. Between 10 to 15 families lived in the building, he 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 rescue operation."

Rescue work delayed

Fire brigade, Mumbai Police and civic officials rushed to the site but the constricted lanes made it difficult to access the area, which was reduced to a mass of rubble, twisted concrete and broken wires. Ambulances could not reach the site and had to be parked around 50 metres away.

The rescue work was further delayed as politicians, including ministers, legislators and the Leader of Opposition, made a beeline to the building collapse site.

Prime minister 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."