Building collapse site at Bhiwandi Credit: Twitter Image

The death toll in the Bhiwandi building collapse in Maharashtra’s Thane district rose to 20 on Tuesday with seven more bodies recovered during the night from the accident site, said the police.

According to reports, the bodies of a two-and-half-year-old boy and a young couple were recovered 24 hours after the crash. Nine among the dead are children aged between two and 14 years who were killed in the accident. Rescue operations conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Thane, Bhiwandi are still underway.

The number of those rescued has gone up to 25, with five more persons being pulled out from the debris, the police said.

According to officials of Bhiwandi Nizampur City Municipal Corporation (BNCMC), around 20-25 people are still stuck under the debris.

Two civic officials have been suspended in connection with the building collapse and an case has been registered against the building owner. And an inquiry commission has also been set up which will include the assistant town planner.

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The 43-year-old Jalani building in the powerloom town which is around 10 km from Thane had 40 flats and around 150 persons living there when it collapsed around 4 in the morning on Monday while the residents were asleep.

The building was also not listed as dilapidated structure under the BNCMC.

A building resident said most residents of the building were tenants and included autorickshaw drivers, vendors and labourers.

Bhiwandi DCP Rajkumar Shinde said offences under sections 337,338,304 (2) of the IPC were registered against the owner of building, Sayyed Ahmed Jilani, after a complaint by civic officials. Jilani is yet to be arrested, he added.

A civic official said the building was served two notices, one in 2019 and another in February, over alleged irregularities, but the residents did not leave as the rent was very low.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered his condolences to the aggrieved people of Bhiwandi and has assured to provide all help that is required to the grieving families. “Saddened by the building collapse in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for a quick recovery of those injured. Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being provided to the affected.” he posted on Twitter.

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