After a 13-hour rescue operation in the pouring rain, authorities pulled out nine bodies from the debris of a two-storey building at Thakurli, which collapsed on Tuesday.
Of the 15 people rescued, 10 are severely injured. Officials said two are being treated at Shastrinagar civic hospital in Dombivli. The rest are in private hospitals.
The Dombivli police registered a case against the building’s three owners — Dropadabai Sakaram Patil and her two son Ramdas Sakaram Patil and Sharad Sakaram Patil — on Wednesday. The police said the owners, who have been absconding since the incident, repeatedly neglected notices from the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC).
“KDMC authorities claim that since 2009, they have declared the building dangerous. The civic body said in the past five years it has sent notices around five times to the owners asking them to check the status of the building with architects and repair it or demolish it. But they neglected the notices,” said SB Shivarkar, senior police inspector, Dombivli police station.
The owners have been booked under section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian penal code.
Meanwhile, the national disaster rescue force (NDRF) and the Kalyan-Dombivli municipal corporation (KDMC) conducted the rescue operation. “We ended the rescue operation at 1pm and later started demolishing the rest of the building,” said KDMC fire officer Sudhakar Kulkarni.
Built in 1972, Matrukrupa building had 25 families residing in it. There were 26 flats in the building and 16 collapsed on Tuesday night.
The building was declared unsafe five years ago and since 2013, the KDMC has been sending notices to the owners to vacate it, but they have refused to do so.
Resident Hirday Narayan Yadav, 45, and his family of four had a narrow escape. “We lived on ground floor and minutes before the collapse, I saw the windows grills shake. I immediately asked my family members to vacate the house and also alerted others. As soon as we ran out, the staircase collapsed. People were stuck on the building’s first and second floor. Some of them jumped off building,” said Yadav.
Many residents helped the officials rescue survivors.Ponamma Ishwaran, 63, lost her 67-year-old husband in the collapse. The family had been living on the building’s second floor for 18 years.
“My daughter and I were rescued, but my husband could not be saved,” said Ishwaran.
After the rescue operation, the KDMC began demolishing the building. Residents protested saying they had not been allowed to collect their belongings. “We won’t stop them from demolishing our houses, but first they should allow us to collect our belongings," said Kanchan Yadav, 32, a resident.
People living in nearby Avinash Niwas building were also asked to vacate their flats for safety reasons. “We had to demolish the entire building because major portions of it had collapsed,” said Vinayak Pandey, KDMC ward officer.
KDMC commissioner E Ravindran has ordered a probe against the three building owners.
“I have sent a proposal to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to provide compensation to the victims,” said Kiran Surose, Kalyan tehsildar.