Five persons were killed and more than 25 injured, four of them critically, on Tuesday evening when a 150-year-old four-storey building collapsed near Jama Masjid in Old Delhi. Twenty-five were still trapped at the time of going to press.
The foundations of the building, in the Chandni Mahal area, were weakened by the illegal construction going on in a nearby plot, Municipal Corporation of Delhi officials said.
The injured were rushed to LNJP hospital. Hospital authorities said 25 persons were brought in with critical injuries, of whom five were declared dead. “Condition of four is still critical,” a doctor said.
In Old Delhi, it is a common practice to divide plots into smaller sections for separate buildings. “In this case too, the plot was divided into three parts. At around 7.45pm the building collapsed and those inside were trapped,” a police officer said.
The debris fell on the road, trapping some pedestrians as well. The dead have been identified as Fatima (65), her granddaughter Tabassum (18), Shaukat Bi (65), Munni Devi (70) and Mohammed Parvez (31).
A contractor had taken over the building to construct flats. “Unauthorised construction led to the collapse. I had submitted a written complaint to the Chandni Mahal SHO,” Shoib Iqbal, local MLA, said.
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit blamed the civic body. “We have been telling the MCD to be careful about illegal construction in the area. It is such a tragic incident,” she said.
An under-construction building collapsed 30 minutes later in the Rani Bagh area of northwest Delhi, injuring two labourers, one of them critically.