Malad wall collapse: Victims blame fire officials for lack of intent

Updated: Jul 04, 2019, 07:12 IST | Chetna Yerunkar and Ranjeet Jadhav

Ambedkar Nagar residents, who pulled out two more bodies themselves, say officials did not help them clear the debris

Malad wall collapse: Victims blame fire officials for lack of intent
Locals carry the two bodies found under the mud and debris on Wednesday. Pics/Satej Shinde

The death toll in the Kurar village landslide disaster in Malad went up to 26 on Wednesday after debris at the Ambedkar Nagar site was lifted by locals. They blamed the fire officials for lacking the intent to help them and also claimed that the forest department, which would often get JCBs to demolish their houses, has not turned up in their hour of need. Fire officials, struggling to identify the number of people missing, said their search and rescue operations would continue.

On Wednesday morning, the BMC got heavy machinery and a JCB at the spot for clearing the debris and demolishing parts of the wall that collapsed on Monday night. A JCB was also brought down in Pimpripada to clear the debris as the chances of anyone being alive were very less.

Mumbai Fire Brigade officials bring down parts of the wall that collapsed at Ambedkar Nagar, Malad
Mumbai Fire Brigade officials bring down parts of the wall that collapsed at Ambedkar Nagar, Malad

Also Read: Kalyan wall collapse: Physically challenged mother killed as she could not move

A landslide following heavy rainfall on Monday night resulted in the collapse of a BMC-built retaining wall in Malad with around 25 houses being washed away in Pimpripada and Ambedkar Nagar. Twenty-two people were killed and 94 were injured in the incident.

While the rescue operation at the site was in progress at Pimpripada and Ambedkar Nagar on Wednesday morning, residents located two more dead bodies beneath the debris of bamboos and tarpaulin in Ambedakar Nagar. They were furious that the BMC and Fire Brigade were worried about clearing debris in Pimpripada while there was no one helping at Ambedkar Nagar.

Local residents search for salvageable belongings amidst the debris of their homes crushed under a wall that collapsed on Monday night
Local residents search for salvageable belongings amidst the debris of their homes crushed under a wall that collapsed on Monday night

A group of local youngsters helping clear the debris at Ambedkar Nagar told mid-day that the "BMC and Fire Brigade were not at all interested in helping us." A resident of Ambedkar Nagar, Ashish Vishwakarma, said, "At the time of demolition, the forest department comes with bulldozers and JCBs but at this time of emergency, they did not help us."

As the news about two more dead bodies being found came in, the fire brigade officials and rescue team members rushed to the spot and the bodies were taken to the Trauma Care hospital for a post-mortem analysis. Rescue operations are still on as there is no clarity about the number of missing persons.

Also read: Mumbai Rains: Malad wall collapse death toll rises to 23

Locals carry away bodies found under the debris for cremation
Locals carry away bodies found under the debris for cremation

'Photo-op for Fire Brigade'
As the two dead bodies were brought back to Ambedkar Nagar and kept under a temporary shed, visitors alleged that the BMC should scale up the search operation since there were still chances of some people being buried beneath bamboos, tin sheets and tarpaulin.

"The two dead bodies were found because of us and not because of the fire brigade. Only when someone told them about the dead bodies, they came along with a stretcher just to pose before the camera. Had there been a JCB and other machinery at the spot, it would have been easier but they said there was no access road here," said Rafik Shaikh, a local.

Also Read: Mumbai Rains: Two men suffocate to death in Malad subway

A fire official present at the spot said, "We did order for machinery which the ward office arranged for us and the rescue operations were never hampered. Whatever excavation was done was in our presence and the BMC labour staff was also present. We will be continuing the rescue and search operations."

26
No. of people killed in the landslide

94
No. of people injured

25
No. of houses washed away in Ambedkar Nagar

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