The 43-year-old building, which had 40 flats, collapsed on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday while many of the residents were asleep. The apartment complex, located at Narpoli’s Patel Compound near Dhamankar Naka, was not in the list of dilapidated structures of the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation, according to the civic body.
Thane Municipal Corporation’s Regional Disaster Management Cell and the National Disaster Response Force are still carrying out rescue operations. More bodies could be trapped under the debris, the disaster management teams said on Wednesday.
The resuce teams took the use of machinery to clear huge portions of the rubble on the first floor of the building, Hindustan Times reported. They have pulled nine residents alive out of the debris since Monday, taking the number of rescued people to 25.
Deputy Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force Ashish Kumar said relatives of those residing in the building have claimed that 8-10 people were still trapped. “We are searching accordingly,” he said. “The ongoing rain is affecting the operations as we are trying to enter deep into the rubbles and pull out those trapped in the first floor and ground floor of the building.”
Thane Disaster Management cell said the rescue operations were likely to end by evening.
Meanwhile, the Bhiwandi Nizampur City Municipal Corporation evacuated 40 families from three neighbouring buildings and also cut their power and water supply.
Two civic officials have been suspended in connection with the collapse and a case filed against the building owner. Bhiwandi District Commissioner of Police Rajkumar Shinde said the owner, identified as Sayyed Jilani, was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, based on a complaint by civic officials. An inquiry committee has also set up to look into the accident.
On Monday, the Maharashtra government announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the relatives of each of the deceased. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish over the building collapse and said all possible assistance was being provided to the affected. President Ram Nath Kovind condoled the deaths in the accident.