Three workers were crushed to death after three MHADA-built row houses that were being reconstructed collapsed in Goregaon West on Sunday. Several bags of cement and sand stored on the upper floors could have caused the crash, said fire officials. The police have arrested the contractor and the supervisor for negligence.
The mishap around 9.15 am at Motilal Nagar No.3 near Azad Maidan also left eight people injured. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) used thermal imagers to locate the bodies of Raman Kumar Goremandal (27), Subhash Chavhan (38) and Rajendra Nisar (40) from the debris, said BMC officials.
Locals and fire officials said all the three adjacent ground-plus-one structures belong to the same owner, who was perhaps planning to merge them into one house. At the time of going to print, it was yet to be ascertained if the owner had the permission for the reconstruction.
"We heard a loud thud and then cries of several men. I first thought many people were fighting. Since there was also a big noise, I and my family rushed out only to find a long metal beam in front of our house," said Geeta Gade, who lives opposite the scene of the accident at the MHADA colony.
Some of the workers managed to escape with varying degrees of injuries, but three could not. "NDRF located the bodies which were pulled out after we used gas cutters and rescue tools," said a fire brigade official.
"If the cement and sand were kept on the road, they would have blocked vehicular movement. Hence the bags were stored on the upper floor," said the official, adding that the load was too much for the structure.
Locals said the workers had raised a brick wall two days ago and placed a huge metal beam on it on Sunday morning. "Thankfully, the collapse did not occur on a weekday as many school students take this road around this time," said another chawl resident.
"The work was going on for the past 20 days or so. A probe will reveal if the owner wanted to raise another floor on the existing structure. One of the survivors Shekhar Wadar jumped from the first floor when the building started to collapse. He was later arrested," said a police officer.
Apart from Wadar, the supervisor, the police have also arrested the contractor – Shahnawaz Amir Ali Sayed – for causing death by negligence and other charges under the Indian Penal Code. "The two were aware that the structure would not be able to bear the weight of the sand and cement. Also, they had not taken any safety measures for the workers," said a police officer.