Rescue ops over in Thane building collapse

Thane (Maharashtra), April 6 (IANS) After 42 gruelling hours, 72 dead and 62 injured people were pulled out of the debris of the seven-floor building that collapsed Thursday evening, an official said, signalling the end of rescue operations.

“The rescue operation is finally over and we have pulled out everyone who was buried under the rubble. We have checked, double checked and ensured there is nobody trapped inside now,” Commandant Alok Avasthy from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told IANS.

The building in Lucky Compound, in Shilphata area on the outskirts of Thane city collapsed around 6.30 p.m. Thursday. The unauthorised building had been constructed in just three months, without the relevant permissions and certificates.

NDRF officials, however, managed to pull out alive an injured woman from the wreckage early Saturday. Identified as Kutibi Shaikh, 65, she is under critical medical care, officials said.

Local disaster management officials said that those dead include 33 men, 22 women, and 17 children.

Of the 62 injured, 36 have been admitted to hospitals in Thane, Kalwa and Mumbra. The seriously injured have been shifted to JJ and Sion Hospitals in Mumbai.

Police have registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the two builders, Jamil Qureshi and Salim Shaikh, who have gone missing. Another builder, Adnan Shaikh, involved in the construction of the building, is also on the run.

According to Thane Police Commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi, four police teams have been formed to track down the builders.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Friday announced the suspension of two officials and compensation for families of those dead and injured in the crash.

Chavan also announced a probe to be conducted by an additional chief secretary of the urban development department.

Thane Municipal Corporation deputy municipal commissioner in-charge of illegal constructions Deepak Chavan and the local senior inspector of police K.P. Naik were placed on suspension for ignoring the unauthorised building that had been constructed in the area falling under their jurisdiction.

While civic officials admitted to the building being unauthorised, they shifted the blame on the builders, who they said went ahead with construction despite not having relevant permissions.

A civic official confirmed reports that the building had been constructed on forest land.

An official in the forest department, however, said that the building had come up on land that was privately owned.

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