At least 11 people, including eight children, were killed and seven others injured after two floors of a three-storey residential building collapsed on an adjoining single-storey house in Malwani in suburban Mumbai, officials said on Thursday.
The incident took place around 11.15 pm on Wednesday, when Mumbai experienced heavy rains throughout the day, at the New Collector Compound on Abdul Hamid Road in the Malwani area of suburban Malad, the officials said.
The ill-fated building was constructed illegally and had suffered damage in cyclone Tauktae, which passed close to the Mumbai coast last month, police said, adding its contractor has been arrested on charges of culpable homicide.
The Maharashtra government announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each to the kin of those who lost their lives in the house collapse, while the Centre will give an additional Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to them.
While earlier civic officials said a single-storey house had collapsed, they later clarified it was a three-storey building.
The second and third floors of the three-storey building collapsed on the adjoining single-storey house, said Santosh Dhonde, acting ward officer of the city's P-North ward.
Fire brigade and other agencies immediately rushed to the spot and started a search and rescue operation, the official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.
Eight children and three adults died, he said, adding that most of the deceased were from two families.
Seven others were injured and the condition of one of them was critical, he said.
People rescued from under the debris were taken to nearby hospitals, he added.
The deceased have been identified as - Sahil Sarfaraz Sayyed (9), Arifa Sheikh (9), Shafiq Md Saleem Siddiqui (45), Tausif Shafiq Siddiqui (15), Aalisha Shafiq Siddiqui (10), Alfisa Shafiq Siddiqui (1.5 years), Afina Shafik Siddiqui (6), Ishrat Bano Shafiq Siddiqui (40), Rahisa Bano Rafik Siddiqui (40), Tahes Safik Siddiqui (12) and John Irranna (13).
According to civic and fire brigade officials, some people might still be trapped under the rubble and the search and rescue operations were on.
As per the BMC, the collapsed building was located on collector's land and its owner got permission from the collector's office while constructing a permanent structure.
However, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Vishwas Nangre Patil told reporters that the building was constructed illegally and had serious structural faults.
During cyclone Tauktae last month, the building suffered certain damages, he said, adding Wednesday's incident could have been averted if proper precautions had been taken.
An FIR under IPC sections 304 (2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) , 336 (Act endangering life or personal safety of others), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) was registered against the building contractor, Ramzan Nabi Shaikh, its owner Rafique Siddiqui (who lost nine members of his family) and others, the police said.
Contractor Ramzan Shaikh (34), a resident of Malwani, was picked up by police after the incident for questioning and later placed under arrest, said Dilip Sawant, Additional Commissioner of Police (North Region).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief at the loss of lives in the building collapse and announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia each for the next of kin of the deceased from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. In a condolence message from the prime minister, his office tweeted, "Pained by the loss of lives due to the collapse of a structure in Malad West, Mumbai. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest." A sum of Rs 50,000 would be provided to each of the injured, Modi said. The Maharashtra government separately announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each to the kin of those who lost their lives in the tragedy. It also said that the medical expenses of the injured will be borne by the government.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray condoled the loss of lives in the incident and visited the Shatabdi Hospital in the city on Thursday to inquire about the well-being of the survivors, a statement issued by the chief minister's office (CMO) said.
As soon as Thackeray got information of the incident last night, he spoke to municipal commissioner I S Chahal and directed that the rescue operation be carried out in a careful manner and the injured be rushed to hospital and treated with government expense, it said.
Rafique Siddiqui, who stayed in the ill-fated building, survived the tragedy but lost his wife and eight other family members. The 45-year-old had stepped out to buy milk minutes before the building came crashing down.
When he came back, he found his world turned upside down as nine members of his family, including his wife, brother, sister-in-law and six children from the two families, died in the incident.
Another family member received injuries after getting trapped under the debris and was hospitalised, Siddiqui told reporters.
He is now left with his 16-year-old son, who also had a miraculous escape as had gone out to buy some medicine when the tragedy struck.
"I had gone out to buy milk for morning tea when the incident took place. I never knew the building was in a bad condition. My family members did not get any time to move out from the house when the building collapsed," he said.
Meanwhile, a local resident claimed most of the shanties in the area were set up illegally and later converted into three to four-storey structures without any permission from the civic body.