Two killed, five hurt as illegal building collapses in Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi
Two people were killed and five others injured after an illegal four-storey building collapsed on an adjoining chawl in Bhiwandi around 1.15am on Saturday. While 32 families were evacuated from both structures, two men were killed, as they entered the building to retrieve a motorcycle belonging to one of them. The injured include three other residents, who, too, had gone back inside the building to fetch their belongings, and two firemen.
On Friday night, residents of the 10-year-old unnamed building called the Bhiwandi-Nizampur City Municipal Corporation (BNCMC) after they noticed cracks in the structure and saw chunks of plaster falling off the building.
BNCMC commissioner Ashok Rankhamb said they received a call from the residents around 9pm, after which teams were rushed to the spot.
“All families were evacuated from the building, which is illegal. Even the material used for construction is substandard,” said Rankhamb.
The building, officials said, was sealed around midnight after they ensured that everyone had been evacuated. “Families kept on insisting that they wanted to enter the building and get their belongings. We did not allow them to go inside. But, some of them sneaked in from an alternative entrance and within minutes, the building collapsed,” said Rankhamb.
The two, who died, were identified as Mohammad Aaqib Shaikh, 22, a resident of the building; and Siraj Ahmed Ali, 26,who lived in the same area. Shaikh went in with Ali and Abdul Aziz Sayyed, 65 — who is among the injured — to get his motorcycle that was parked on the fourth floor. Shaikh’s family claimed that he had bought the motorcycle with his first salary and so did not want to lose it.
Sayyed, who is currently in a hospital, said, “Suddenly, the floor gave away and we fell. I had gone to help Aaqib, who was like my son, to remove his motorcycle. I was stuck under the debris for more than an hour.”
The other injured residents – Javed Saleem Shaikh, 34; and Momeen Nadeeb Mohammad Safi, 21 – had also entered the building to get their belongings. Firemen Narendra Bavane, 35 and Devidas Wagh, 34, who were also hurt, were placing bamboos at the entry point of the structure when the mishap happened.
“They [Bavane and Wagh] were blocking the entrance so that people did not enter inside. They ran as soon as the building started to fall, but suffered injuries on their hands and legs,” said D Salvi, chief fire officer, BNCMC.
The rescue operations proved to be a difficult task as the building is situated inside a narrow lane with other structures blocking the path. BNCMC even called in the Thane Disaster Response Force (TDRF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to help in the operations.
“It was difficult to take any machinery to the spot. We had to clear the debris with our hands and look for those trapped below it,” said Santosh Kadam, chief of regional disaster management cell.
The BNCMC later filed a complaint against the builder, Saleemunisa Ahmed Hussain Ansari, 45, at the Shantinagar police station. “We have lodged a complaint against the builder. The building does not have a name. It is registered in the name of a woman [Saleemunisa Ahmed Hussain Ansari] and her husband is the builder,” said Raju Varlikar, development officer, BNCMC.
An officer from the Shantinagar police station confirmed that an FIR had been registered. “We have initiated a probe against the builder,” said the officer.