20 kids saved from Thane house crash
Toll 56, authorities say most buildings unauthorised and collapses are common
Rescuers brought 20 minors alive on Friday morning after the total crash of a seven-storey building on Thursday at Mumbra in Thane district. Hundreds of onlookers applauded after the rescue, following the rescue staff’s nightlong toil to cut massive slabs with bulldozers, mechanical diggers and cranes.
The death toll in the crash has risen to 56, including 10 children along with the number of injured reaching 60. Fire brigade officials involved in salvaging operations along with state reserve police force, home guards and local police fear that the toll would keep rising.
A case has been registered against the developers - Salil Jamadar and Khalil Jamadar, supervisor and contractor; however, the police till late evening on Friday had not been able to apprehend anyone of them.
Thane disaster management officials, while refusing to indulge in guess work, stated that they apprehended that the toll might reach a high figure through night. Several injured persons rushed to the hospitals in nearby towns have been discharged after treatment.
The exact number of people living in the unauthorised five-storey Lucky Compound near the border of sea-side town Mumbra and Dombivli in Shil Phata, Thane district, cannot be ascertained as the entire structure was illegal.
“Nobody knows as to how many people were residing inside the building. Most of these illegal structures incidentally are interconnected from inside and unless you are a resident of these complexes which do not exist on municipal records... you can get lost in the labyrinthine passages crossing from one building to another,” said Ashok Jadhav, a resident of Shil Dhaigar locality adjacent to the ill-fated Lucky Compound building.
Building collapses are not uncommon in this area, and local media from the spot stated that the area bristles with unauthorised and illegal construction with structures being erected in just a span of five to six months and these structures also manage to get power and water connection from the authorities.
According to local media at Mumbra, the construction of five-storey Lucky Compound building was carried out in barely two months. For the past couple of weeks, the contractor was adding two more floors to the building.
Next building evacuated
The eight storey structure adjacent to Lucky Compound building which is also reported to be unauthorised and connected with internal passages on all floors to other structures, was evacuated on Thursday night by the authorities.
Most of the residents of in Mumbra are displaced people, migrants as well as illegal immigrants from a neighbouring nation. Incidentally, the issue of illegal structures fulminating and mushrooming in nearby satellite towns near Mumbai had cropped up in the state Assembly early this week.
Later in the day, Thane Municipal Commissioner R A Rajeev told the media that Mumbra had a history of illegal and unauthorised structures. “We have been waging a battle against these elements. And it is not so easy. It takes time.”
Meanwhile, both bureaucrats and local politicians have started the blame game, while NCP which has a powerful influence in the region has put the onus on rival Shiv Sena which controls the municipal council. The civic authorities have shrugged the entire tragic episode on forest department which has vehemently denied the blame.