Heavy rain brings down wall, kills 22 in Mumbai’s Malad
Twenty-two people died and 79 were injured as heavy rain brought down a retaining wall of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) reservoir on hutments on a hillock in Kurar village, Malad around 1am on Tuesday. While the state has ordered a probe, the BMC will conduct investigation under a special engineer to ascertain the cause.
According to residents, the wall was built around three years ago. They alleged it blocked a culvert. With no outlet for the rainwater, it accumulated near the wall, putting pressure on it and leading to the collapse, they claimed.
Chandrakala Jadhav, a resident from the slum who lost two from her family in the incident, said, “I have been living in this area for more than 20 years. It floods every monsoon, but we somehow manage to survive. On Tuesday, the water crossed the wall and started flowing on our houses. Subsequently, the wall collapsed, sweeping away people.” Another resident Yogesh Dutta said, “I heard a loud noise and thought it was a tree collapse.”
Dhanashree Bharadkar, local NCP corporator from the area, said, “The wall was constructed in 2016. It should have been built in a way that it didn’t block drainage.”
The BMC said that the hutments were illegal. “We will inquire into the incident. It was a compound wall of a BMC-owned reservoir. The land around the area is forest land, and illegal hutments settled on it. The wall fell on these hutments in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, and hence the number of casualties is high,” said additional municipal commissioner Ashwini Joshi.
Residents alleged the wall collapsed at 12.30am and the rescue operations started at 2am. Many were found injured or dead at the spot and were rushed to nearby hospitals, including Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Centre at Jogeshwari, Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivli and other private hospitals.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) were helped by local residents and workers and engineers from the Metro construction site at Western Express Highway. The NDRF and MFB teams had to use drilling machines and cutters to widen the space to remove people from under the debris. PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer, MFB, said, “Initially about 30 to 40 injured persons were rushed to hospital by locals.”
Meanwhile, locals also said the other parts of the retaining wall should also be pulled down as a portion was tilting. Many residents vacated their homes near the wall fearing the remaining portion of the wall too may collapse during heavy rain.