Around 500 workers, ship-owners and visitors of Swadeshi Market in Kalbadevi had a lucky escape as a portion of a two-storey chawl came crashing down on Thursday evening.
While fire brigade and BMC disaster management teams rushed to the spot within half an hour of the incident, officials confirmed that there were no casualties in the incident.
Four people were pulled out of the debris by firemen. The rescue operation, however, came to a stand still within an hour of the incident due to heavy rainfall.
The incident took place at 5pm on July in the Mani Ben Chawl, located inside Swadeshi Market.
Locals said the textile market was less crowded than usual at the time due to rains, but there were still over 500 people in the area.
Manish Kothari, a textile shop owner who’s shop is adjacent to the chawl that collapsed, said that they noticed a certain section of the chawl slowly falling down in pieces, moments before the tragedy.
"Stone by stone were falling down from the slab of the ground floor and when we noticed it, we informed the shop owners. All of us were planning to shut the shops due to rain and the probable danger when the ground floor slab of the chawl came crashing down. We barely had time to move when the entire front section was on ground. Thankfully not a single person got stuck inside and we all came out safely," said Kothari, the owner of Khushi Emporium.
Another shop owner, Mukesh Shroff said that on a busy day, more than athousand people can be seen in the busy market. But since it was raining, the crowd was less and a major tragedy was averted. "The chawl has a large connected passage and is full of textile outlets on either floors. We saw it happening in front of us. One after another, both the floors came down. There is a common washroom on the ground floor of the Chawl which is used by the entire market but fortunately no one was inside at the time the incident took place," said Shroff.
Fire brigade officials confirmed that no one sustained injury in the crash and four people walked out of the debris on their own.
"We are still trying to clear the debris and make sure no one is stuck inside. Four of the people were helped out of the debris but none of them had any injuries. Rains are slowing don the rescue operation but we are trying to complete the procedure as soon as possible," the official said.
The ship owners said that the structure being more than 100 years old comes under one of heritage structure couldn't be redeveloped and they were planning to do plastering due to the visible cracks to chawl’s walls.
"An architect and engineer had come for the inspection yesterday and maybe there was a plan to plaster the structure. It's a very old building and due to heavy rains, it came crashing down. We are just hoping that none of the people are stuck inside," said the shop owner.