Locals helping with rescue operations carry a young girl to safety at the congested crash site of Hussaini building in Bhendi Bazaar early this morning. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Locals helping with rescue operations carry a young girl to safety at the congested crash site of Hussaini building in Bhendi Bazaar early this morning. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Ten people have died and close to 35 are feared trapped inside the 117-year-old Hussaini building after it crashed this morning at 8.40. Located right next to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's childhood home on Maulana Shaukat Ali Road in the congested Bhendi Bazaar area, it was a ground plus six-storey structure.

At the time of going to press, 15 people had been taken to hospital with injuries, including two firemen who were injured during rescue operations, according to fire officials.

More than 60 people were living in the old and dilapidated building. Residents in the area said the building was a unique structure, which was ground-plus-two in the front, ground-plus-three in the middle, and ground-plus-six storeys in the main portion.

The congested lanes around the building and a fire outbreak caused hindrance while removing debris during rescue operations. "We are trying to control the fire, in order to fast track the rescue work. Buildings adjacent to crash site have been vacated as a precautionary measure," said PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer.

Rescue work at the Hussaini building crash site this morning
Rescue work at the Hussaini building crash site this morning

The collapsed structure was a cessed MHADA building, and housed godowns on the ground floor. It was part of the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust and was to undergo redevelopment soon.

Nasim Khan, a resident of the area, said, "Over 60 people were in the building at the time of the collapse. There were no signs of any damage to the building despite it being old."

A playschool operates out of the first floor of the building, but at the time of the crash there were no children there as school begins at 10.30am. Around 20-25 children attend the school, neighbours said.

At JJ Hospital, where the injured were taken, Dr TP Lahane, said, "Till now 15 people have been brought in, of which five are in critical condition. While two were brought dead, two died at the hospital."

The body of one of the deceased being fished out of the rubble
The body of one of the deceased being fished out of the rubble

Rescue teams were rushed to the accident site. A team from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) arrived at the spot as did 10 fire engines.

A municipal officer said they received a call that the building had collapsed at 8.40 am. "We rushed fire brigade personnel to the site to rescue those trapped. We fear that several more are trapped under the debris," the officer said.

Civic chief Ajoy Mehta arrives at the crash site around noon. Pic/Ranjeet Jadhav
Civic chief Ajoy Mehta arrives at the crash site around noon. Pic/Ranjeet Jadhav

According to MHADA sources, "In 2013, MHADA had given a no-objection certificate to the building for redevelopment. We recently received a letter of intent from the residents to start work. MHADA notices dated 28-03-2011 and 20-05-2011, declaring the building dilapidated, were issued along with offer of transit accommodation to the remaining tenants and occupants."

BMC, too, issued a press release by noon, which stated that it had issued a notice to the residents to vacate the building under Section 353 of the MMC Act, which is specifically for dilapidated buildings.

The Saifee Burhani Trust officials responded with a press release, saying, "We are extremely saddened and concerned at this unfortunate incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families. The structure housed 13 tenants, which included 12 residential and one commercial. Out of these, the trust had already shifted seven families out in 2013-14 (sic)."

80
No. of NDRF personnel on site

60
No. of residents

8.40
Time at which the building collapsed this morning

Deceased
Fatima Sayyed, 13
Naseer Ahmad, 24
Jamad Sayyed, 25
Shafina Chakawala, 30
Taslim Arsiwala, 45
Hassan Arsiwala, 45
Nazar Gulam, 30Unidentified victim, 22