In a major tragedy of factory building collapse in Focal Point area of the city, three persons were killed and several feared trapped and to rescue them, joint operation involving army, police, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) apart from volunteers of religious organizations was on its full swing.
Incident occurred around 11.30 pm last night, when several workers were busy in manufacturing blankets in factory premises of Sheetal Fibers Limited and suddenly four-storied building collapsed like playing card, without giving any chance to the workers to run for their lives.
“I heard a big sound and fearing bomb blast ran outside and saw the building collapsing” Sanjay Mishra, an eyewitness and working in a neighbouring factory told Hindustan Times adding that immediately people from surrounding factories gathered and informed the police about the incident.
Within half an hour, police came and found them helpless and large posse of police was summoned for rescue, sources said.
On getting information, senior district administration including Deputy Commissioner Priyank Bharti and Police Commissioner Gaurav Yadav also rushed to the spot and after assessing the situation, several agencies including Army, NDRF, CRPF, ITBP and local fire brigade were called in for rescue operation.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Jasbir Singh Rai, who was among the first to reach the spot claimed that about forty five trapped persons, who were easily approachable were immediately rescued during night.
As many as 45 personnel of 7th Battalion of NDRF, posted at Bathinda reached the spot around 6.30 in the morning but due to lack of required equipments like big gas cutters, rescue operation could not begin by 11.30 A M.
One column of Engineers Regiment of Vajra Core led by Colonel Simarjeet Singh also joined the operation and started digging out the debris from front portion.
NDRF officials, with snuffer dogs and loudspeakers entered into the debris and found one person identified as Amarjit, whose foot was trapped in the iron pillar, crying for help. A team of para military staff was made to enter into debris and injured was rescued but not before his feet was to be amputated.
From the adjoining building, a whole was created in the wall by NDRF personnel and found a trapped person crying for help. After a rescue operation of about three hours, the trapped worker identified as Ajay was rescued. However, another unidentified person was found dead, but dead body could not be evacuated as he was trapped under heavy pillar, NDRF sources said.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Priyank Bharti told HT that so far 55 persons were rescued from the debris and three were found dead.
Asked about number of persons who are feared trapped in the building, Bharti could not reveal the exact number of workers trapped in the debris as even owner of the factory, Sheetal Vij expressed his unawareness about the number of workers in the premises at the time of collapse.
However, sources said that 304 employees marked their attendance in the fateful night.
About the exact cause of collapse, DC said “exact cause of collapse will be known only after the detailed enquiry for which I will order a magisterial probe”.
Meanwhile, Sheetal Vij ruled out any blast in the boiler in the factory, as the premises did not have any boiler.
Injured, were rushed to Devi Talab cheritable hospital and Civil Hospital, where condition of some was stated to be critical.