The death toll in the Kesarbai building collapse rose to 14 on Wednesday as rescue operations continued for the second day after the 100-year-old structure crumbled to the ground in the Dongri area of Maharashtra’s Mumbai on Tuesday.
Among the 14 dead are two minors whose bodies were recovered from under the debris early on Wednesday.
The death toll is likely to go up further later in the day as the rescue operations progress, An official from the BMC disaster management cell said.
Dozens are still feared trapped in the rubble of the building.
At the earliest stage, at least 40-50 people were feared trapped under the debris.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is carrying out rescue and search operations with the help of sniffer dogs.
Nine people, including two children, have been rescued so far.
Three NDRF teams were joined by the fire brigade, the police and the locals in the rescue operations that continued throughout the night.
The rescue teams could not bring in heavy vehicles to remove the debris as the lanes were too narrow with electric wires dangling overhead.
Residents formed a human chain to pass down with their bare hands small debris like wooden blocks and bricks towards the outer area of the neighbourhood.
Sachidanand Gawde, the PRO of the NDRF battalion, said his team members had been told that there were few customers at an eatery situated in the ground floor and no one knew the exact numbers. “So our job is still left to rescue those men,” he said.
“It (search and rescue operations) will go on till the last piece of rubble is not removed from the spot,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each for the injured. All medical expenses of the injured will be borne by the state government.
Local MLA Amin Patel was set to meet Fadnavis in the afternoon to demand a hefty compensation and speedy rehabilitation for the victims as the government had not announced any compensation to the victims.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Mumbai Police had registered an Accidental Death Report (ADR) into the incident.
“We will conduct an inquiry to ascertain the causes behind the incident,” said Nishith Mishra, Additional Commissioner of Police, south region, who is supervising the search and rescue operations.
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) claimed July 16 that the four-storey building in south Mumbai’s Dongri area which
collapsed earlier in the day was unauthorised.
Also, a letter, reportedly by the BMC, dating back to 2017, asked the Kesarbai building to be evacuated for demolition at the earliest adding that the office “would not be responsible” in the event of a mishap.
The incident was reported at around 11:40 am on Tuesday following which a team of NDRF and fire tenders rushed to the spot.
CM Devendra Fadnavis had on Tuesday said that a probe will be initiated into the incident once all the details are out.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the building collapse.
Home Minister Amit Shah also expressed his grief over the incident.
“The collapse of a building in Dongri, Mumbai is very tragic. My condolences with the bereaved families and prayers for early recovery of those injured. Rescue operations are in full swing. The state government, NDRF and local authorities are doing their best to assist people in need,” he said.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has urged party workers to extend all possible support in the relief and rescue operations.
“I pray for the well-being of those trapped in the four-storey residential building that collapsed in Mumbai. My condolences to the bereaved families,” Priyanka Gandhi said.
“Congress workers must extend all support possible in the relief and rescue operations. This is the third such incident recently. Why wasn’t action taken on time?” she said in a tweet in Hindi.