Incessant rain since Saturday morning brought down a three-storey building slated for demolition in the textile town of Bhiwandi, on the outskirts of Mumbai, on Sunday, killing eight and injuring 22 people. The heavy rain hampered rescue work by the fire brigade, NDRF and civic authorities.
The residents of the structure, known as the Kabir Shaikh building, were served an evacuation notice and the building was to be demolished on Saturday, but the process was deferred in the absence of police protection. The building was originally two-storey, and a house was illegally constructed on its terrace, said civic officials. Nihal Momin Ahmed, who works as an electrician in the opposite building, said, “I saw a part of the slab collapse around 9am. I rushed to alert the residents, but by then the building tilted and came crumbling down.” Ahmed said local residents rescued most people, before the fire brigade and disaster management team reached the spot. Among the survivors was a seven-month-old baby who escaped unhurt.
The authorities had disconnected the water and electricity supply to the building, but the 33 residents had refused to move out. There were four such buildings in the area, three of which had been demolished.
Sunil Bhalerao, additional commissioner of BNMC, said, “We had served two notices to the 20-year-old building. Fifty-two people from 10 families lived here. Five families of 20 people had vacated their homes.”
A fire brigade officer said, “We left immediately after receiving the call. However, we got stuck in the traffic snarl at Mankoli junction.”
Finding their way through the narrow lanes was difficult for ambulances and fire tenders. Sunil Zalke, public relations officer, BNMC, said, “There was a huge crowd near the building, which blocked the access road. We had to disperse the crowd and then start the rescue operations.”
Vandana Suryavanshi, deputy collector, said, “We started the rescue operation immediately despite the heavy rain. We are considering compensation for families of the victims.”