killed, scores injured in Delhi house collapse
At least 55 people were killed and around 90 injured when a five-storeyed
house collapsed in east Delhi's Laxmi Nagar Monday night. Scores
of people are believed to be trapped under the rubble, officials
Rescue workers Tuesday night continued to dig through the rubble
of a collapsed five-storeyed building in east Delhi, searching
frantically for the over 30 people feared still trapped. The toll
in the accident has reached 66 and 74 injured, while the owner of
illegally-constructed building has been arrested.
"Police arrested the owner, Amrit Singh, from Geeta Colony. He is
currently in police custody at Shakarpur police station," Delhi
Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.
Amrit Singh was absconding since the building collapse. He is said
to have been involved previously in many criminal cases, a police
official said. A case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder
under Indian Penal Code section 304 has been registered against
Hopes of finding any survivors from the rubble more than 24 hours
after the collapse are clearly dimming. Relatives trying to locate
their kin are already assuming the worst though the rescue
operation continues unabated.
"The rescue operation will continue throughout the night and will
go on till all the bodies are recovered. Though the chances of
finding any survivors is very low, our rescue operations continue
with the same zeal," said a Delhi Fire Services official.
Located in a poor working class area of the sprawling city of 17
million people, the building was home to many families from Bihar
and West Bengal who migrate to the capital for a living because of
limited opportunities back home.
The morning light Monday brought a sense of the scale of the
disaster at the site - rescue workers, police and fire personnel
swarming the debris-strewn area, even as the wails and shouts of
relatives searching for missing kin rent the air.
The building, located in congested Lalita Park locality near the
Yamuna river in east Delhi, collapsed around 8.15 p.m. Monday.
Three nearby buildings have been evacuated, with the residents
staying in make-shift camps on the roadside.
Among those keeping vigil at the crash site was a distraught
Jamuna Devi, whose 15-year-old son was standing outside the
building when it went down like a pack of cards.
The stunned mother pleaded that someone should save her son. "He
spoke to my other son on his mobile phone last night. He was
crying and saying that he was still trapped inside," Jamuna Devi
Since morning, however, the phone has been switched off.
Similarly, the cries and sounds of mobile phones ringing from
beneath the rubble had started to subside with every passing hour.
"We are not hearing any of the mobile phone rings or the people
crying from under the debris. There are about 30 people still
missing," said Satyavrat Insa, a volunteer with a non-governmental
Rescue workers still officially claimed that they hoped to find
people alive, but admitted that chances were dim. "The last person
brought out alive was at about two p.m.," said Insa.
For those looking for their relatives, Tuesday was a day of
rushing from one hospital to another. At Lok Nayak Jayaprakash
Hospital, the gate of the emergency department had become a wall
of photographs of dead victims.
Some others searched through the list of injured with the hope of
finding the name of their kin.
Meanwhile, the government machinery has started cranking its
familiar tune, pledging to take action against the guilty and
against any unauthorised structures.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has ordered a magisterial
enquiry into the building collapse, and asked for the report to be
submitted by deputy commissioner (east) in ten days.
"Stringent action should be initiated whichever department is
responsible for this tragedy of this enormity," she said.
"There is definitely negligence on the part of the MCD," said
Dikshit, describing the accident as "unprecedented". "Without an
NOC (no objection certificate), no building is considered
liveable. It was an unauthorised building."
The MCD, in turn, blamed the Delhi government's flood and
irrigation department for not checking the water in the building's
basement. "The building is located on the river bed of Yamuna and
with the heavy seasonal rainfall and the recent flood, water
reached the building foundation and weakened the structure and
resulted in the collapse," said Yogendra Chandolia, chairperson of
the MCD's Standing Committee.
Lt.Governor Tejinder Khanna said that the Central Building
Research Institute, Roorkee, has been asked to do a survey of the
congested Shahadra municipal zone in East Delhi.
"Any building found unsafe will be considered for retro-fitting.
But if a building is found not worth that, then it will be sealed
and demolished. There has always been a question mark on the
safety of buildings in this area," said Khanna.
A steady stream of Delhi government officials - starting from the
lieutenant governor, the chief minister, state cabinet members to
senior officials - visited the accident site and hospitals where
the dead and the injured were taken to.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash
Hospital, one of four hospitals where the injured were being
The state government announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh to the
families of those who killed in the accident and Rs.1lakh in case
the victim was a minor. The injured will be given a compensation
of Rs.50,000 each.
The Delhi government has requested the Residents Commissioner of
West Bengal and Bihar to search for the contacts of the dead and
injured people since most of the victims belonged to these two
Four helpline numbers have been started. Lok Nayak Jayaprakash
Hospital: 23235152; Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital: 22786828;
Dr.Hedgewar Hospital: 22393151/22309988; Guru Tegh Bahadur