TWELVE PEOPLE, including three adults and six children of a family, aged between 18 months and 13 years, were killed when a three-storey building collapsed in Malwani area of Malad (West), in suburban Mumbai, on Wednesday night.
The incident is reported to have occurred between 10.50 pm and 11 pm on Wednesday – the city had received heavy rainfall through the day. While seven people were injured, some are reported to be critical.
An FIR has been registered for culpable homicide not amounting to murder under IPC Section 304 (ii) against the building owner, Rafiq Siddiqui, and the contractor who built it, Ramzan Nabi Shaikh (34), said Shekhar Bhalerao, Senior Police Inspector at the Malwani police station. Shaikh has been arrested.
Siddiqui lost nine members of his family — his wife Rahisa (40), younger brother Shafiq (45), sister-in-law Ishrat (40), and Shafiq and Ishrat’s six children — Tausif (13), Tahes (10), Alisha (10), Arifa (9), Afina (6) and Alfiza (18 months). The family reportedly lived in two rooms on the top floor. Siddiqui survived as he had stepped out at the time of the incident.
Two other children – Sahil Sarfaraz Sayed (9) and John Piyush Irana (13) – also died in the incident. While residents said Sahil’s parents had rented the second floor and John’s grandmother, Dhanalaxmi Irana (56), had rented the first floor, police said they were verifying if they were tenants. Dhanalaxmi and her daughter Marikumari (30) were injured — the latter is critical.
A 60-year-old man, Yusu Bhatia, who worked in a milk shop on which the structure collapsed, was also killed.
According to reports, the building had suffered damage during Cyclone Tauktae last month. “They had made some structural changes to it after the cyclone,” said Vishwas Nangre Patil, Joint CP (law & order).
The building, an illegal structure built on Collector’s land, collapsed on a two-storey building and a milk shop near it.
“I heard a loud noise, like a blast. We ran to see what had happened. There was a cloud of dust and the building had collapsed. We used our cellphone torches and started digging through the rubble for survivors. The fire brigade came soon after,” said Sangram Singh (29), a resident of the area.
He said the first person he pulled out was a woman, later identified as Marikumari. “She was bleeding and unconscious, but alive,” he said.
“Before the fire brigade arrived, over 50 people from the slum had gathered at the spot to help rescue people… I saw five bodies at one place,” said Akhtar Shaikh (27), another resident.
“We managed to pull out four people alive, I heard two of them are in a serious condition. We also pulled out eight bodies,” said Rahman Shah (41), who was part of the rescue team of residents.
The Maharashtra government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of victims.
Civic officials said most of the structures in the area are illegal. “These structures are built on weak foundation and are unable to withstand heavy rainfall, leading to collapse,” said an official.
While the permissible height for slum structures is 14 feet (ground floor plus mezzanine floor), most exceed the limit. “All the slum structures in the area had permission for ground floor. Over the years, like in the case of the structure that collapsed, they illegally constructed the upper floors,” said Bharat Marathe, Deputy Municipal Commissioner.
In a similar incident last year, two persons died when a three-storey building in Malvani area of Malad collapsed.
Following last night’s incident, the authorities have decided to carry out an inspection to identify illegal and dilapidated structures.
Meanwhile, in another building collapse in Lokhandi chawl, in Dahisar East, one person died and another was injured on Thursday.