A cessed building, the residents of Chhipi Chawl had been asked to vacate in September ahead of renovation work by a private contractor appointed by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA)
The fire brigade said that they received a call at 1.15 p.m. and four fire engines, four bulldozers, three ambulances and two fire jeeps were rushed to the spot. However, the rescue vehicles could not enter the narrows lanes of the bazaar.
MHADA officials said the renovation work order was issued in 2016, but actual repairs had started only in October. An official said, “The rear end of the building, comprising a bathroom, a toilet and a passageway, has collapsed. There were 41 tenants living in the building: 37 commercial and 4 residential. All of them vacated the building in September.”
Officials said the building was a load-bearing, brick-walled, wooden, and partially steel-framed structure. Flooring slab collapsed from the fourth floor of the building during renovation work and fell on to labourers working on the first floor.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s disaster management officials said the bodies of Feroz Shaikh (23), Safa-ul-haq (26) and Rocky Shaikh (22) were recovered from the debris in the evening. The three were rushed to J.J. Hospital, where they were declared brought dead.
Fire Brigade officials said that they were still searching for at least two others trapped in the debris. One of them is believed to be Barkatullah Khan (45), a scrap dealer. Mr. Khan’s son, Mohammad (24), said he hoped his father came out alive. He had accompanied his father to collect scrap on Friday morning.
S.D Sawant, Deputy Fire Officer, said, “Search operations are under way and we are removing the debris. But we are finding it difficult to make much progress owing to the buiding’s narrow entrance. Since the rear side of the building has collapsed, we are carrying out the rescue operations from the front side.”
Gulam Mushtafa, (23), a labourer who managed to survive, said, “At 12.35 p.m., I was working with three other labourers on the first floor when I heard a big noise. We ran out of the building and managed to save ourselves.” Mr. Mustafa said that 11 labourers were working on the site since renovation work began on December 5. He said the labourers slept inside the building.
Ishtayak Khan, the relative of a labourer trapped inside the building, said, “Neither the fire brigade nor the police had any equipment to clear the debris. We quickly bought the equipment and gave it to the fire brigade officials.”
Sachin Devora, who runs an iron shop on the ground floor of the building, said his father woke up at 12.35 p.m. and told him to run as the building had partially collapsed.
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