Maharashtra: A five-storey residential building collapsed in Mahad town of Raigad district, 170 km from Mumbai, on Monday evening, killing at least one person. While 15 people, including seven who suffered injuries, were rescued till 10 pm, district officials estimate that at least 70 people are trapped under the debris.
The top three floors of the structure, known as Tarique Garden, collapsed around 6.50 pm. Eyewitnesses said the building, which is estimated to be not more than 10 years old, began shaking with some residents managing to rush out before it collapsed.
Local rescue teams, including police and fire brigade, were immediately pressed into service. Three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams from Pune were set to join rescue operations late at night. An official from NDRF said that visuals of the building denote that it was a “pancake collapse”, a term used for a fall that occurs from the top floors to the lower ones.
According to the district administration, the building was home to over 40 families. While 25 families were rescued, at least 15 still remained trapped.
Hours before it collapsed, officials said, the building appeared to shake and some families were evacuated as a safety measure.
Sajid Pore, who runs a printing press business, was at work when the building collapsed. He lived in the building with his family of seven. “My family was home. My mother and sister-in-law were rescued in time but suffered injuries,” he told The Indian Express from Ansari hospital in Mahad, where his mother Farida Pore had to get stitches for a head injury. Sajid said his sister-in-law and her three-year-old son suffered minor injuries while being evacuated.
“Naveed, a boy from the building was sitting in the parking lot when he saw the building shake. He raised an alarm, following which many families were evacuated,” said Sajid. Naveed, too, had fractured his leg, he added.
“There are 47 flats in the building. The building is not even old. Even 100-year-old buildings stand strong. The builders’ work was obviously substandard,” said Sajid.
According to the district administration, the building painted in pink and blue was built by one Yunus Shaikh and a contractor known as ‘Patel’, who residents said was in Mumbai at the time of the incident.
Aziz Kadar Shaikh, an autorickshaw driver, lives next to the building that he said was owned by his uncle Yunus Shaikh. He said it was built by a contractor from Taloja. “I heard people shouting and running out of the building… In just two minutes, the building was reduced to rubble,” he added.
Late Monday, Raigad Collector Nidhi Choudhari ordered the registration of an offence against the builder, the architect and the contactor.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar have spoken to Choudhari and Shiv Sena MLA from Mahad, Bharat Gogavale.
“The collapse of a building in Raigad, Maharashtra is very tragic. Have spoken to DG @NDRFHQ to provide all possible assistance, teams are on the way and will be assisting with the rescue operations as soon as possible. Praying for everyone’s safety,” tweeted Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
A green corridor was created in coordination with district administrations from Pune to Raigad to enable the swift passage of NDRF team. NDRF Commandant Anupam Shrivastav said: “The immediate priority will be to rescue those trapped. Three canines are a part of the rescue teams. Since they are the most reliable method of rescue in such situations, they will be pressed into action first. We will also take help seismic and acoustic detectors, among others, to detect any noise from the debris.”
District officials said that 25 labourers, one gas cutter, one genset, two JCBs and two dumpers have been deployed at the site. Hospitals in neighbouring talukas of Mangaon, Roha and Panvel have been put on alert. Three ambulances with doctors on board have also been dispatched from Mangaon. The district administration has appointed Shrivardhan sub-divisional officer Amit Shedge as the nodal officer for setting up a medical camp.
The district has sought rescue equipment, including gas cutters, gensets, ambulances, JCBs, water and biscuits from Mangaon, Pen, Tala, Poladpur, Panvel, Roha, Alibag, Khopoli, Murud and Sudhagad.
“We suspect that at least 100 to 125 people are trapped. One or two of them have called from inside and it is difficult to say what condition they are in. We are speaking with their relatives. NDRF teams are on their way but at present local authorities are working towards rescuing those trapped,” said Mahad MLA Gogavale.
The collector said: “Monday being a working day, we think the number of people in the building was less. We estimate at least 40 to 45 people were present.”
She added that the structure was not dilapidated. “It is a 10-year-old building. Some structural damage that could have led to the collapse,” Choudhari said.
Local residents said that Mahad hardly received any rainfall on Monday for it to have played a role in the building giving way. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Mahad had received moderate rainfall in the weekend.