Scribe among 54 dead in Mumbai crash

Last Updated 28 September 2013, 19:06 IST

The death toll in Friday’s four-storey building collapse here went up to 54, with the recovery of 18 more bodies from the rubble on Saturday, officials said.

Thirty-two people were injured, four of them critically, and the search continues for rescuing a few more people who remain trapped under the debris, said the BMC Disaster Control department.

Among the victims in the tragedy was 31-year journalist with Sakal newspaper, Yogesh Pawar, and his father Anant Pawar, a civic employee.

Situated near the Dockyard Road, south Mumbai, the 33-year-old building served as civic employees’ staff quarters. It housed around 21 families. It suddenly collapsed around 5:45 am on Friday, catching unawares a majority of the sleeping residents, the official added.

Moving to fix responsibility for the state’s second worst building crash tragedy of this year, Mumbai police arrested the proprietor of a marquee decoration firm who had allegedly carried out illegal modifications on the ground floor of the doomed building.

Suspected renovation and alterations carried out in his office-cum-warehouse may have led to further weakening of the dilapidated structure and hastened its collapse.

On a complaint by a civic official, Sewree police nabbed Ashokkumar J Mehta of Mamamiya Decorators under various charges pertaining to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, according to Additional Police Commissioner (South) Krishna Prakash. He has been sent to three-day police custody.

A few years ago, the 28-flat building, of which seven were unoccupied, and a ground floor warehouse leased to the marquee decorating firm, was declared “extremely dilapidated”.

Last month, it was surveyed by a BMC team which recommended urgent repairs after shifting the families living there.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh and city Mayor Sunil Prabhu announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of each of the deceased.

This is the seventh major building collapse in Mumbai metropolitan and neighbouring areas in the past six months.

In the worst disaster in the state’s history, 75 lives were lost when a building collapsed in April in Mumbra’s Lucky Compound.In June, four more buildings crashed - in Mahim (10 dead), Mumbra (10 dead), Dahisar (seven dead) and Bhiwandi (three dead).
Last Saturday, Banoo Apartments (Bhiwandi) turned to rubble but without fatalities as over a 100 occupants managed to run to safety before it came down.

(Published 28 September 2013, 16:44 IST)

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