Thane (Maharashtra), At least 13 persons, including seven minors, were killed in sleep as a three-storeyed residential building they lived in collapsed in the early hours of Monday in Narpoli area of Bhiwandi town.
Ten persons were injured and at least 30 others rescued. Another dozen-odd persons are still feared trapped under the rubble, officials said here.
A portion of Jilani building, situated in the Patel Compound in a congested locality, collapsed around 3.45 am, in the Muslim-dominated powerloom town that is some 60 km north of Mumbai in Thane district.
Eyewitnesses said that tonnes of concrete and metal collapsed in a heap of rubble amid a loud sound, shaking other buildings in the vicinity and jolting people to wake up and rush to help the victims.
Soon thereafter, teams of police as well as fire brigade from Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation and neighbouring towns of Thane, Kalyan, Dombivali, and the National Disaster Response Force rushed to the spot for the rescue operation.
By afternoon, over 25 persons were extricated from the rubble, including several children and senior citizens, as the operation continued to look for another dozen or so persons still believed trapped.
A dog squad, high-tech sensors and cameras have been deployed to look for the survivors, and gas cutters to cut iron bars of the collapsed pillars etc.
Shiv Sena leader and Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde rushed in to supervise the rescue operation and announced an ex gratia of Rs 500,000 to the kin of each deceased and free treatment to those injured.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and others monitored the situation regularly from Mumbai, as the state capital, Thane, Palghar, and Raigad continued to be battered by rain during the day.
Bhiwandi-Nizampur City Municipal Corporation Commissioner Dr Pankaj Ashiya said that the building was on the list of dilapidated and dangerous structures and a notice for vacation was issued to its residents a few months ago.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths.
“The loss of lives in the building collapse at Bhiwandi in Maharashtra is quite distressing. In this hour of grief, my thoughts and prayers are with the accident victims. I wish speedy recovery to the injured. Local authorities are coordinating rescue and relief efforts,” Kovind said.
“Saddened by the building collapse in Bhiwandi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the quick recovery of those injured. Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being provided to the affected,” said Modi.
Maharashtra Congress President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat expressed grief over the incident and urged party activists to help authorities in rescue work.
An official of Narpoli police station said that it was in the process of registering a case against the builder, contractor and other persons for the tragedy.
This is the second major building collapse in less than a month in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. A five-storeyed building collapsed on August 24 in Mahad town of Raigad, claiming 16 lives.