In what is turning out to be the worst tragedy of its kind in the city, the toll in Friday’s building collapse in Mazgaon touched 60 on Saturday, with an estimated four people believed to be still buried under the rubble.
The number of injured also rose to 33, three of whom are said to be in critical condition. Eight of the dead are yet to be identified.
The dilapidated structure near Babu Genu market, which housed 21 families of civic conservancy staff, had given away at 5.50 am, catching the residents unaware.
Sachindanand Gawde, deputy commandant of National Disaster Response Force which is assisting the Fire Brigade, said the rescue operation is edging ahead cautiously to ensure those still buried can be brought out alive.
The day also saw the civic body, whose employees were residing in the four-storey building, scanning the voters’ list and interacting with locals to determine the number of people living in the one-room houses.
With rescue work underway, anxious relatives continued to maintain round-the-clock vigil at the collapse site in hope their dear ones would be rescued.
The corporators, in a general body meeting, slammed the civic administration for the lapse, even as the latter admitted structural audit reports had issued a warning of disaster.
The civic body has appointed two committees to determine the cause. “One will study the technical aspects and the other to see if any complaints were made against the illegal alterations,” said SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner.
Ashok Mehta, the owner of Mamamiya Decorators, was arrested for renovating his office-cum-warehouse on the ground floor of the building in Dockyard Road, thus causing the collapse. (HT Photo)
The Sewree police have arrested Ashok Kumar Mehta, who ran a business from the ground floor, for making unauthorised changes to the structure.
While Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has promised strict action against those found responsible for the tragedy, BMC has formed two probe committees and ordered audit of buildings in similar condition.
The civic body has announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh for families of every deceased person.
(With PTI inputs)
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