September 01, 2017

117-year old building collapses in Mumbai Bhendi Bazaar killing 32

by Neha Monga

At least 32 people were killed and 14, including four firemen, injured after a seven-storey building collapsed in Bhendi Bazaar around 8:30 on Thursday. This is the third building that crashed in the city in just over a month.

Rescue workers, including those from the National Disaster National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the fire brigade and police pulled out 13 people alive from the rubble and are still searching for 7-8 residents still feared trapped inside the building.

The seven-storey Husaini building on Pakmodia Street in Bhendi Bazaar area was home to five families, a playschool on the first floor and two commercial establishments, including a sweet mart, on the ground floor.

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“There was a massive bang. We couldn’t see anything due to the dust and smoke. Once the dust settled, we realised it was a building collapse,” said Amina Sheikh a resident of the Bhendi Bazaar area, a famous and busy marketplace in one of Mumbai’s most historic districts.

A team of 90 National Disaster Management Force (NDRF) personnel reached the site around 9.45 am. In all, 200 fire brigades and NDRF personnel were involved in the rescue operations. Desperate relatives of those trapped pleaded with rescuers to help find their loved ones after getting phone calls from trapped survivors. The search and rescue efforts were also hampered by the narrow confines of Husaini Marg where the building stood.

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Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) held the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) responsible for the building collapse. The SBUT, run by the Bohra community, was granted the rights to redevelop a cluster of old buildings in the area, including the collapsed building.

MHADA chief public relations officer Vaishali Wagh told local news channels that the NOC for redevelopment of the building was given in 2011 and that they had been constantly been pursuing the issue with SBUT.

She said MHADA had been constantly conveying to the families it was a “dangerous” building.

Residents of two adjacent buildings were asked to move out as a safety measure. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who visited the collapse site, announced a compensation of 500,000 for the families of those who lost their lives. “An inquiry has been ordered into the crash by the additional chief secretary, housing,” he added.

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