Himachal building collapse: Bodies of 11 more soldiers pulled out, toll mounts to 14
The toll in the building collapse on the Nahan-Kumarhatti road climbed to 14 with the bodies of 13 junior commissioned officers (JCOs) of Assam Rifles recovered from the debris since Sunday afternoon.
Thirty personnel, all ranked from subedar to naib subedar, had arrived for lunch from Dagshai cantonment to celebrate recent promotions when the four-storeyed building housing at Sehaj Tandoori Dhaba collapsed around 3.40 pm.
Archana Devi, the wife of dhaba owner Sahil Kumar, was the lone civilian to have lost her life in the tragedy that struck following heavy rain on Sunday afternoon.
Solan deputy commissioner KC Chaman said the rescue operation was called off after 22 hours as the bodies were recovered.
After visiting the site, chief minister Jairam Thakur said, “The structure was not built as per government specifications. We have ordered a magisterial probe. The Solan SDM will submit the report in two weeks. Corrective and punitive action will follow.”
Seventeen JCOs and 10 civilians were rescued by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and army units. “14 people were injured while three were referred to command hospital in Chandimandir. They are all stable,” Chaman said.
Three bodies, including those of two subedars and the wife of the building owner, were recovered on Sunday night. Eleven bodies of army personnel were pulled out on Monday.
The post-mortem conducted at a nearby private hospital showed chest trauma and head injuries as the prime causes of death.
The army personnel who died were identified as subedars Raj Kishore, Balwinder Singh, Vinod, Ajit Kumar, Pardeep Chand, Bishar Singh, Hem Kumang, Kumar Chorai, Surjeet Sharma, Rajan Bahadur, Lalson Vaiphe and naib subedars M Naubin and Yogesh.
Local residents said it was the worst disaster to have struck the area. The building collapsed in seconds, giving no time to the victims to run out. “First, the fourth floor collapsed after which the entire structure came crashing down,” said Gaurav Prashar, an eyewitness. Building owner Sahil Kumar’s family lived on the top floor, while the dhaba was on the third floor. The second floor had a pantry and ground floor was being used as a store.
The chief minister, who visited the injured at Maharishi Markandeshwar Medical College at Kumarhatti and civil hospital at Dharampur, told reporters that three companies of the NDRF were airlifted from Sunni, 42 km from Shimla.
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