13 die in Mumbai building collapse

Mumbai, Sep 27 (IANS) Thirteen people died and 25 others were injured when a four-storeyed building collapsed here Friday morning, officials said.

While 20 people were rescued without injuries from the debris of the south Mumbai building, search operations were underway Friday evening on a war footing to trace 10 more people feared trapped under the rubble, said an official of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Disaster Control unit.

Among the injured, the condition of some was reported to be serious, raising the possibility of more fatalities.

Situated near the Dockyard Road, the over 30-year-old building was civic employees' staff quarters, said an official of the chief minister's office.

The building, which housed around 21 families, suddenly collapsed around 5.45 a.m, catching majority of the sleeping residents unawares, the official added.

A few years ago, the 28-flat building, of which seven were unoccupied, and a ground floor warehouse, were declared "extremely dilapidated".

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

"The bureaucratic delays in shifting out the residents to transit camps and carrying out necessary repairs led to the avoidable tragedy," Suresh Jadhav, a former municipal corporator from the area, said after the collapse.

Mumbai Mayor Sunil Prabhu, who supervised the relief operations with top BMC and fire brigade officials, said the priority was to rescue those trapped under the debris and efforts were continuing on a war footing.

Prabhu also announced a compensation of Rs.200,000 to the families of each of the deceased and free treatment of the injured in civic hospitals.

Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte along with additional municipal commissioners Rajiv Jalota and Manisha Mhaiskar visited the crash site during the day.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan summoned an emergency meeting of departments concerned and ordered top priority to rescue and relief operations besides giving proper treatment to the injured.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar spoke to top civic and health officials, including Sir J.J. Hospital dean T.P. Lahane, and directed them to render the best possible treatment and care to the injured.

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 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 crashed.

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