Khar building collapse: I came out and a portion of building just collapsed, says eye-witness

Updated: Sep 25, 2019, 07:41 IST | Pallavi Smart, Chetna Sadadekar | Mumbai

Ten-year-old girl dies, two others injured after part of Khar building crumbles around 1 pm; 21 people rescued by fire brigade, NDRF

A portion of Bhole Apartment at Khar came crashing down on Tuesday afternoon
A portion of Bhole Apartment at Khar came crashing down on Tuesday afternoon

A portion of a ground-plus-five storey residential building collapsed on Tuesday afternoon near Khar Gymkhana killing a minor girl and injuring two others. Some columns in the parking section on the ground floor of Bhole Apartment were allegedly undergoing some repair work for the last few some days. The reason of the collapse is not yet known.

Ten-year-old Mahi Motwani, who was rescued from the debris, was later declared dead at Lilavati hospital. Two others injured in the mishap were taken to Bhabha Hospital and were later discharged while 21 others were rescued immediately after the collapse. The incident occurred at around 1.11 pm when one side of the parking lot sunk in. The living room areas on that side of the building and a part of the staircase soon came crashing down. Four fire engines, two table-turner ladders, one rescue van, one ambulance, a team of NDRF and one 108 ambulance were rushed to the spot for rescue work.

A total of 21 residents were rescued by the fire brigade with the help of the ladder after which the NDRF joined the rescue work for those feared trapped inside the debris. A fire official on the spot said, "There were grills on most of the windows which we had to cut to help residents come out." Ashish Kumar, deputy commandant, NDRF, told mid-day, "Many residents were rescued by the fire brigade with only one child remaining trapped under the debris. When we rescued her, she was unconscious. Other building parts were in danger of falling down so we had to work manually with small equipment. This is why it took longer. But the situation demanded it."

Mahi Motwani. Pic/Courtesy: Khar ALM
Mahi Motwani. Pic/Courtesy: Khar ALM

Slabs and parts of pillars were hanging on the upper side of the building after the incident. "If we had used bigger equipment such as a crane — that could have helped remove the debris within five to ten minutes — its vibrations would have led the hanging parts to collapse. That would have been more dangerous. It took us more than an hour but we were taking cautious steps to ensure the child's safety," Kumar added. The rescue work concluded after the secretary of the building accounted for everybody.

Residents rush out in time

Aishwarya Khubchandani, a first-floor resident of the building, who was in the house at the time of the incident, recalled, "There was a loud noise, that of a window grill falling. My maid and I were inside the house. We immediately tried to run outside but there was too much dust. When we opened the door, we saw the door of the flat opposite ours collapsing inside the house."

Fifth-floor resident Deepak Dutt too felt the vibration and thus came down to check what was happening. "I came out and a portion of the building collapsed. Luckily, my wife was in the room inside and not in the living-room which collapsed. She was later rescued by the fire brigade by cutting the grills of our window," he explained.

Audit in 2017

According to the residents of the building, Bhole Apartment was a 44-year-old structure built in 1975. With a total of 20 flats, approximately 60-70 people resided in them. The building had undergone a structural audit only two years ago. However, nothing apart from some repair work was recommended. Local corporator Alka Kerkar, who too was at the spot, said, "When the building underwent a structural audit, it was not classified under the C1 category (dangerous structure)." Kamlesh Khubchandani, a first-floor resident added, "We were working on the redevelopment plan and almost everything was finalised. Since we were waiting for the monsoon to subside, regular repair work was being undertaken."

Warning to neighbouring building

Sharad Ugade, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of H West ward, said, "The disaster team and fire officials have asked us to send out precautionary messages to the neighbouring building as well since this building has tilted. We have asked for a structural auditor to audit the building and inform us when we can demolish it. I have confirmed with the secretary of the society that there are no more people missing." RA Chaudhary, deputy chief fire officer (Technical), said, "We will be monitoring the site. The building is inhabitable and we are not allowing anyone inside as the staircase has collapsed too. However, further investigations will reveal more details about the incident."

Year the building was audited, with only some repairs suggested

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