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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Ulhasnagar building collapses a day after tilting; fire brigade evacuates 15 families

A team of 40 fire brigade officials reached the spot and evacuated everyone safely.

mumbai Updated: Aug 14, 2019 10:31 IST
Sajana Nambiar
Sajana Nambiar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A five-storey building in Mumbai’s Ulhasnagar came crumbling down after the A wing of the building tilted and developed cracks.
A five-storey building in Mumbai’s Ulhasnagar came crumbling down after the A wing of the building tilted and developed cracks. (HT Photo)
         

Fifteen families of a nearby building were trapped on Tuesday morning after a five-storey building in Ulhasnagar camp 3 came crumbling down, a day after the A wing of the building tilted and developed cracks.

A team of 40 fire brigade officials reached the spot and evacuated everyone safely. However, these families are now homeless and have nowhere to go.

On Monday, 31 families living in the A wing were evacuated after residents of Mahak Apartments on Link Road called the fire brigade as they found that all the doors were jammed.

The A wing collapsed on Tuesday around 9am, owing to which the debris fell towards the B wing and blocked its entrance. Mahak Apartments is surrounded by several other residential buildings which are constructed very close to each other, making the lanes leading to these buildings very narrow.

Sanjay Lulla, 32, a resident of B wing, said, “We could hear parts of A wing fall since morning. Over six families [from B wing] left their flats. While others were preparing to leave, the A wing building came crashing down and blocked the B wing entrance.” Sanjay, who lived in the apartment with his family of five, has nowhere to go. “We managed to make it out, but I do not know where to take my family.”

Following the incident, the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC) asked residents of the nearby four buildings to shift for safety reasons.

Sandip Asekar, sub officer, fire department, UMC, said, “We managed to reach out to every resident from the back entrance and bring them out safely. We also asked residents of nearby buildings to move out as there was LPG gas leakage under the debris. We initiated the cooling process to ensure there are no side effects when the debris will be cleared.”

He said it was difficult to counsel the residents who were not ready to move out. “Some wanted to carry their belongings, which we could not allow.”

Pieces of glass were scattered all over the premises. Kamal Chaudhari, 45, who had come to check her flat, suffered a leg injury after she stepped on to the pieces of glass. A festive occasion turned tragic for Chaudhari and her family, as fire brigade officials asked them to vacate the premises before she could begin preparing for Eid celebrations on Monday. Meanwhile, families who had been evacuated also rushed to the spot and were distraught to find their belongings under the debris.

“When we were asked to leave on Monday, we could not take anything with us, not even our clothes. With all our belongings under the debris, our livelihood has come to standstill,” said Sachin Hinduja, 40, who lived on the fourth floor of A wing, with his wife and two kids.

‘When our doors were locked on Monday, we pushed it open and ran out fearing for our lives. We thought we would collect our belongings the next day, but it is impossible now,” he said.

The Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC) said the 25-year-old building was not on the list of dangerous buildings.

Following Monday’s incident, the civic body had decided to do a structural audit of the building and take action against responsible authorities. However, the building has now collapsed.

RG Bhatia, 62, who lived in A wing with his family of seven, said, “It is a miraculous escape for us. We had left our homes with nothing and today we are homeless and in search of shelter.”

Bhatia, who is now retired said, he had spent over ₹40 lakh for the flat three years ago.

“All my savings and hard earned money was crushed in minutes. The civic body did not make any temporary arrangements for us.”

UMC deputy commissioner Ganesh Shimpi, said, they had asked residents to do a structural audit. “We have not yet taken action against the builder. We had asked residents to do a structural audit and served notices, but no audit was carried out.”

However, residents refuted these claims and said they had not received any notices.

“The only notice we received was on Monday after the A wing building tilted. They had asked us to move out for safety reasons,” said a resident of B wing, on condition of anonymity.

The UMC has now decided to conduct structural audit of nearby buildings. According to the civic body, a of total 250 buildings were listed as dangerous in Ulhasnagar before monsoon.

First Published: Aug 13, 2019 23:39 IST

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