God saved them. Well, almost. Most residents of 70-year-old Yusuf Manzil at Lamington Road were out for prayers when part of the seven-storey cessed building collapsed on Tuesday.
The residents had gone to offer namaaz (prayers) before breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramzan.
However, Zubeida Khambatti (83) was not as fortunate. Trapped in the debris for over three hours, she was rushed to Nair Hospital. She succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.
“She suffered severe head injuries and was on ventilator for an hour,” said her son Hakim.
Four people, including one-month-old Sakina, were rescued from the first-floor. They sustained minor injuries. The survivors have been shifted to a transit camp in Mahim.
Rescue work took four hours and 100 firemen were involved in the operation. Chief Fire Officer P.D. Karguppikar said commercial units housed in the building made it a “load-bearing structure”.
Third-floor resident, Vijay Padalkar (68), was in his balcony when he saw mud falling off the roof. “Within seconds the building came down.”
Padalkar said residents had complained to the police, civic authorities and state housing authority about illegal alterations made to the structure.
Residents of Yusuf Manzil and adjacent Khatau Mansion said the owner of an electronics shop on the ground floor had removed the staircase.
“This illegal construction could have caused the collapse,” said Zohar Radiowala, a resident of Khatau Mansion.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner Kishore Kshirsagar said the store had been issued a stop work notice a few days ago. “If work was on in spite of the notice, the owner will be prosecuted,” he said.
The building was last repaired 25 years ago.
Vaishali Wagh, MHADA PRO, said: “The residents had asked for a no-objection certificate for repairs and we had given it to architect Harish Shamani 13 days ago.”