Mohali: 1 killed, 3 rescued as Kharar building comes crashing down

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Rescue work in progress at the collapse site on Saturday. (Express photo/Jasbir Malhi)

A JCB operator was killed after a three-storey showroom of a construction company at Kharar collapsed when one of its walls caved on Saturday afternoon. Three persons who were trapped in the building were saved and the rescue operation was going on at the time of filing this report.

The office of Ambika Builders, which was being operated from the company’s showroom collapsed, on the busy Kharar-Landran road at around 12.30 pm.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Girish Dayalan said the teams of Fire Brigade, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the local administration were carrying out rescue work.

Also read | Kharar building collapse: Trapped for eight hours, phone calls saved his life

Police said the structure collapsed while a plot behind the building, where the company was constructing a hotel, was being dug up.

“The basement for the construction of a hotel was dug up behind the building. At the time of the incident, some of the employees were in the office. The entire building collapsed after the wall which was towards the dug up plot had caved in. A JCB was also buried under the debris,” Kharar DSP Pal Singh said.

The deceased, Harwinder Singh, was a resident of Morinda in Ropar district. Harwinder was working in had come to India around two months ago. The officials said that he had called his family while being trapped in the collapsed building.

Kharar (city) SHO Inspector Bhagwant Singh said that they could confirm if any other person was trapped under the debris only after the rescue operations are over.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh asked the DC to conduct an inquiry and file a detailed report to him. The DC also marked a magisterial inquiry into the incident and asked Kharar Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Himanshu Jain to submit the report to him.

“Anguished to learn of the collapse of a three-storeyed building in Kharar today with 2 people trapped. @NDRF, Fire Brigade & Mohali Admin are on the spot for immediate rescue and relief. Have asked DC Mohali @Girish Dayalan to send a detailed report on what caused this collapse,” Amarinder tweeted.

According to the officials, the rescued persons — Harjeet Singh, Armaan and Prem Bahadur — were admitted to hospital. Harjeet Singh, was taken out from under the debris at around 8:30 pm by the NDRF team. He was admitted to Kharar Civil Hospital where his condition was said to be stable.

Harjeet is a resident of Ghruan village and was working at Ambika Builders as an accountant. He had contacted his colleagues and the NDRF team when he was trapped inside the building. “He was located at around 6 pm. First he was given the water, he was saved as he was trapped in a room, the lentil was broken and he was rescued,” a police official who was part of the rescue operation said.

Armaan sustained minor injuries and was discharged, while Prem Bahadur, who was working as a peon at Ambika Builder’s office had a fracture. He was admitted to Kharar civil hospital.

The building owner, Parveen Kumar Soni, could not be reached for comments.

“Whether people working on the site had taken adequate permission or if safeguards were adopted are a subject matter of probe,” Dayalan said.

When asked that whether the building was legal, the DC said that he will check that whether the building was legal and necessary permissions were obtained by the builder. “If any violation was done by the builder, necessary action will be initiated against him,” the DC added. Kharar Estate Officer Sangeet Ahluwalia said that the builder had the permission to dig up the basement and the building was legal. Inspector Bhagwant Singh said they were yet to register the case.

The DC, when asked about the rescue operations, said that the NDRF team with specialised equipment was called from Panchkula. He said a team of 25 NDRF personnel was carrying out the rescue work. He added that a back-up team from Ludhiana was also called. “The Western Command of Army was contacted and are on standby,” the DC added.

The local residents had started the rescue work , while the NDRF team reached at around 2.30 pm. Eight JCB’s were pressed into service to clear the debris and to remove the heavy mobile towers which fell with the building.

Jaspreet Singh who was working as accountants at the office, said he was outside the building. “We suspect that the JCB operator might have broken one of the pillars which lead to the collapse of the building,” Jaspreet Singh said. Raj Kumar, who work at the building said the company was planning to shift the office to another place in the coming few days as the construction was going on.