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His younger brother, Mohammad Ehtashan, had left for work in Noida at 6. “Three of my cousins, Ejaz, Ujale, and Imtiaz were sleeping at home. Now I am just waiting for their bodies to be recovered. I had gone to both hospitals where they are taking the bodies and survivors but couldn’t locate them,” he said.
Ejaz had recently taken admission at a management institute in Greater Noida. Ujale was looking for a job. Imtiaz worked with a firm in Manesar. “I haven’t called home yet. What will I tell them? They would have called if they had heard about this or seen on TV. There is just a little bit of hope that they are alive and will be recovered,” Alam, who works as an office assistant said. He had been living in the building for the past one year.
As part of the rescue operation, a corporation team has been working at the spot to remove the debris with police, fire department officials, civil defence volunteers and locals. Neighbours gathered on roofs to watch the action while many jumped in to lend a helping hand.
“The MCD and the police corruption has resulted in this accident. We want to clear the debris as soon as possible. It is our locality’s issue. So we are here helping in any possible way,” Javed Khan, a resident of the nearby DDA flats, said.
The rescuers, throughout the day, moved quite steadily. “The immediate priority is to safeguard lives. It will take some more time to clear the rubble and locate more survivors, if any. Most homes in the area have been built without proper sanctions and with sub-standard material. This makes them prone to such disasters,” a fire department official said.
Preliminary police investigation into the incident revealed that it collapsed due to the digging work in an adjacent plot.
“The owner of the adjacent building was illegally laying down the foundation of a new building at his plot, keeping aside basic building construction norms and safety of neighbours,” a senior police official said.
A case has been registered under section 304A (causing death by negligence) at the Sarai Rohilla police station against the owner-cum-builder of the adjacent plot where illegal construction work was on.
“Almost all the houses in the locality have been built illegally. An important fact about these illegally constructed buildings is that they don’t have their own structural stability. Each building, more or less, stands due to the support of its adjacent buildings. The prime reason behind the collapse of the building is that it had lost the support of its adjacent building which was pulled down for renovation work,” said the officer.
“An assistant junior engineer and a junior engineer of the Karol Bagh zone have been suspended,” North corporation spokesperson YS Mann said.