Two dead as house collapses in north Delhi’s Sabzi Mandi
Two brothers, aged seven and 12, were killed, a 72-year-old man was seriously injured, and at least three people were feared to be trapped under the debris after a four-storey building collapsed in north Delhi’s Sabzi Mandi area on Monday, police and fire officials said.
A parked sedan, and at least two adjoining buildings, were also damaged, they said.
The bodies of Prashant Gupta (7) and Saumya Gupta (12) were recovered from the debris by the rescue teams and local residents. They were passing by when more than half of the building’s structure collapsed, crushing them. Ramji Das Aneja (72), who suffered head injuries, was saved by rescue workers. Officials said he ran a shop on the ground floor of the building.
Fire and police officials said search and rescue operations were on till late on Monday night as more people were feared trapped under the debris. There were two shops on the ground floor of the building, and three brothers — Ajay Aneja, Rajiv Aneja and Sanjay Aneja — lived on the three upper floors with their families, the officials said. They said that, barring one, none of the Anejas were on any of the upper floors of the building.
Though police were still probing the cause of the collapse, residents and members of the Aneja family alleged that the owner of one of the shops on the ground floor was carrying out repair and renovation work “illegally”. They said vibrations caused during the repairs led to the collapse. Locals said the building was at least 80 years old. However, the Anejas said that the building was not dilapidated.
Deputy commissioner of police (north) Anto Alphonse said a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was registered under the Indian Penal Code’s Section 304, 288 and 34 at the Sabzi Mandi police station against the owner of the shop and the construction contractor. There were no arrests till the time of going to print. “We are investigating the allegations of illegal construction. Whoever is found guilty will be strictly dealt as per the law. Two children have died and an elderly man suffered head injuries. He is out of danger. Locals have told us that at least four labourers, including a woman, are still trapped under the debris. The rescue operation is on,” said DCP Alphonse.
Delhi lieutenant governor (LG) Anil Baijal and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed their concern over the accident in separate tweets.
“Anguished at the tragic incident of building collapse in the Sabzi Mandi area. My condolences to the families of children who succumbed in this tragedy and prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured. Even as immediate relief and rescue operations are being undertaken on priority, have strongly advised concerned officials to urgently take necessary steps including planning and engineering solutions, especially in vulnerable areas so that such incidents never reoccur,” LG Baijal tweeted.
Kejriwal said he was monitoring the situation. “The building collapse in Sabzi Mandi area is very sad. The administration is engaged in relief and rescue work. I am monitoring the situation through the district administration,” the chief minister tweeted in Hindi.
Delhi Fire Services (DFS) director Atul Garg said the fire control room received a call at 11.50am reporting a house collapse near Robin Cinema in Sabzi Mandi. Initially, five fire tenders along with the rescue teams were rushed to the spot. Two more rescue teams were dispatched after they realised that some people were trapped under the debris, said Garg.
An eyewitness, Mahendra Kumar, said the two children were walking on the pavement outside the building with their mother when it collapsed and fell on them. Their mother had a narrow escape as she was walking ahead of her children. Ramji Das Aneja, who runs a currency notes exchange and Pan (betel leaf) shop, on the building’s ground floor was also trapped under the rubble, he added.
“The shop owner (Ramji) was immediately rescued and rushed to Bara Hindu Rao hospital. The bodies of the two children were found nearly two hours after the building collapsed. At least four labourers working in the other shop on the ground floor are still feared trapped,” said Kumar.
At the time of the accident, 19-year-old Delhi University (DU) student, Aryan Aneja, was the only one present on the upper floors, and the other nine who lived in the building were out for work. Aryan’s father, Ajay was in a hospital for a surgery with his wife. Satya, mother of the Aneja brothers, was out to buy medicines.
Hemantika Aneja, wife of Rajiv Aneja, said the building was strong and they were living there for the past 35 years. One shop on the ground floor was sold to a local family just a fortnight ago. The new owner was carrying out renovation work to make some adjustments, and level the floor, she said.