The final death toll in the Dharwad building collapse in north Karnataka reached 19, as relief and rescue operations concluded on Monday after five long days.
An official of the disaster management department confirmed the development stating a total of 54 people have been rescued including some who were trapped for more than two whole days.
“Rescue and relief operations have been concluded today at around 3pm. The final death toll is 19,” an official said.
The rescue operations had begun since March 19 when the under construction commercial building within Dharwad Sub-urban Police Station limits had collapsed in the afternoon. State Fire and Emergency rescue personnel were immediately pressed into service. Based on the Deputy Commissioner’s inputs, the state government had flown one National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team stationed in Bengaluru on the same evening itself. Later, two more teams of NDRF personnel were flown to the spot from Ghaziabad.
The official said, “In total, 111 NDRF personnel, 205 fire officials and 42 State Disaster Relief Force persons were involved in the rescue and relief operations.” Hubli-Dharwad Commissioner MN Nagaraju and Deputy Commissioner M Deepa monitored the developments from the spot.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Revenue Minister RV Deshpande also visited the spot to take stock of the situation.
So far, seven officials from the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation have been suspended including Town Planning Officer Mukund Joshi, Town Planning Cell Assistant Director Ashok Gadag, Zonal Officer Prabhakar Doddmani, Executive Engineer V Sridhar, Assistant Executive Engineer Chandrappa, Town Planning Cell Deputy Director BV Hiremath and Assistant Commissioner (zone-3) Santosh Anishettar. An inquiry is pending.
Urban Development UT Khader told TNM that a team headed by the Deputy Commissioner will probe the involvement of the civic officials and submit a report based on which action will be taken.
Meanwhile, all the five named in the FIR registered in the case have been arrested including Gangappa Shintri, the father-in-law of former Dharwad MLA from Congress Vinay Kulkarni.
While the owners, Ravi Basavaraj Sabarad, Basavaraj D Nigadi, Gangappa Shintri and Mahabaleshwar Puradagudi surrendered on March 21, the architect of the building Vivek Pawar was arrested from Kolhapur in Maharashtra on Friday. All five have been booked under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life) of the IPC.