Mumbai building crash toll 33, rescue operations over

Nearly 36 hours after the 117-year-old Huseini Building collapsed here, agencies looking for survivors in the debris called off their operations on Friday evening as the death toll in Mumbai’s worst house collapse during 2017 stood at 33.

The six-storey building on Maulana Shaukat Ali Road in the congested Bhendi Bazaar area collapsed around 8.25 a.m. on Thursday morning, trapping more than 70 persons.

“All the victims are accounted for so far,” Chief Fire Officer P. Rahangdale said, indicating that nobody remained trapped under the rubble, after the massive multi-agency search operations was called off.

Dean of Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals (Dr) T.P. Lahane said 24 of the 33 persons killed were males, including a six-year-old boy and a three-week-old infant. The victims included nine women, of whom two were minors — each aged three.

Around a dozen of those rescued were undergoing treatment in the hospital where their condition was stable, Lahane added.

A case of accident has been registered and a probe would be conducted to fix responsibility in the tragedy, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police Manoj Sharma.

The decrepit building was declared unfit for occupation by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) way back in 2011, and had been taken over for redevelopment by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT), as part of its urban renewal project in that area.

However, it could not be done as several occupants allegedly refused to vacate the dilapidated building owing to issues with the authorities.

The building comprised a commercial warehouse on the ground floor, and 12 tenements housing families, though SBUT said it had already shifted seven families three years ago to transit camps.

On Thursday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the crash site and announced a probe by an official of Additional Chief Secretary rank, while Mumbai Guardian Minister Subhash Desai ordered BMC Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to submit a detailed report on the incident.

Leaders of the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have squarely held the MHADA responsible for the tragedy and demanded action against the culprits.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences to bereaved families on Wednesday.

“Collapse of a building in Mumbai is saddening. My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and prayers with the injured,” Modi said in a tweet.

This is the first major building collapse after Tuesday’s deluge in Mumbai and the second in five days after the Chandivali Crystal Business Park crash of August 26 claimed six lives.

On July 25, 17 persons were killed when the Sai Darshan building crashed in eastern suburb of Ghatkopar.

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