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Rescue is top priority, probe will follow: BMC

A day after the building collapse in Mahim killed three, seven more bodies were recovered from the rubble of the collapsed Altaf Mansion, hauling the death toll to 10. A BMC officer on the site said that some irregularities were seen in the structure, but a formal probe would be conducted only after the rescue operation is over. The deceased included the relatives of Sanjay Dutt’s advocate Rizwan Merchant, who lost his mother Tahera (78), wife Asifa (50) and 12-year-old son Farhan. Their bodies were shifted to civic-run Sion Hospital where the post-mortem was conducted.


Seven more bodies were recovered from the rubble of the collapsed Altaf mansion bringing the toll up to ten yesterday. A probe will be conducted after the rescue operation is over

Shattered family
Four of the dead, Mubeen Aslam Lakha (18), Zaiba Aslam Lakha (16), Mariam Maithani (7) and Anam Maithani (12) belonged to the same family. On Monday night, their grandmother, Zaibunissa Lakha (76) died on her way to Bhabha Hospital. Another member of the Lakha family, Farhana (35), escaped with minor injuries and was taken to Holy Family Hospital on Monday night. A relative of the family, Tabrez Lakha, said that around 10 members of the Lakha family resided on the first floor of the building.


Advocate Rizwan Merchant who lost his mother, Tahera Merchant (78), wife Asifa (50) and 12-year-old son Farhan Merchant, in the building collapse

“Mariam and Anam, who live in Dongri with their parents, had come to meet their grandmother,” said Tabrez. Their bodies were brought to civic-run Sion hospital at around 6.30 pm on Tuesday. Another distraught relative of the Lakha family, Aamir Hussain Hamidani (65) a Mahim resident, said, “I was at a nearby shop when the mishap took place. At first, after hearing the loud sounds, I assumed it was a car accident but on arriving closer to the spot I realised a portion of the building had collapsed.”


Bodies of Merchant's family being carried for last rites at Mahim Kabrastan yesterday. Pics/Satyajit Desai and Shadab Khan

Other than Farhana, the family’s domestic help, Chandini Shaikh managed to escape with minor injuries for which she is undergoing treatment at Hinduja hospital. The other deceased include Mehrunisa Batliwala (75) and her domestic help, Halima Sheikh (75). Batliwala was staying on the fifth floor of the building with her daughter Reshma Gandhi.

Two decapitated
Dr Rajesh Dere, head of the forensics department at Bhabha Hospital, said that most of the victims died on the spot due to severe head injuries and trauma. “Two of the victims died due to decapitation. It is uncommon to see cases of decapitation in a building collapse. However, in this case the pillar unfortunately landed on their necks,” said Dr Dere.

Structural changes
Locals claimed the mishap took place due to structural changes in the basement. Fire officials were busy with rescue operations throughout the day and no investigation has taken place as of yet. A local added that a car showroom had replaced a furniture shop on the ground floor just a few years ago. The BMC’s vigilance officer on condition of anonymity said, “Some sort of irregularities have been noticed, but we will get the details only after a detailed investigation.” Ward officer Sharad Ugade said, “We will investigate into this once the rescue operation is over. Right now our priority is to rescue the people trapped in the debris.”

(With inputs from Mehul Thakkar and Maithili Vaze)

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