Four persons, including a mother and her two-year-old son, were killed after a four-storey building located in the congested bylanes of west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar collapsed on Saturday afternoon.
The incident occurred at 12:05pm when Richa Sharma, the 28-year-old resident of the building, was playing with her son Jai, 2, near a window overlooking a narrow street in B5.
According to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the main reason behind the collapse was a weakened foundation attributed to unregulated digging in an adjacent banquet hall. Both the buildings were constructed on the same 200 sq yard plot.
The residents claim that the digging had not only damaged the foundation of the collapsed building, but had also made it tilt in addition to creating visible cracks running along its rear. These had been noticed by its owner, Gagan Sharma, 32, three days ago.
Ironically, Gagan had returned from the local area councillor’s office after complaining about the deteriorating condition of his building just 10 minutes before it fell. Gagan, who survived the tragedy along with his daughter Vanshika, 5, was playing with her on the building's terrace when the basement gave way. He used to stay on the ground floor of the building with his family of six. The first floor had been rented out to a family of three.
“He may have escaped death but the tragedy ended up claiming half his family. His mother, Rooprani Sharma, 60, his wife Richa and his youngest child, Jai, are no more,” said Vishwas Singh, 34, a resident. Gagan is undergoing treatment for minor injuries at a hospital with one of his tenants, Pushpendra, who was also injured.
AK Sharma, director, Delhi Fire Services said that four to five persons, apparently labourers carrying out the digging work, were still buried under the rubble.
“More than 65 of our men are on the job in addition to eight fire tenders and four JCB machines. But since survivors might still be buried under
the rubble, it would take us at least till Sunday afternoon to clear the collapse site,” Sharma said. A criminal case has been registered against the owner of the banquet hall.