Greater Noida, July 18 (IANS) At least four persons were killed and several others trapped under the debris of two residential buildings that collapsed in a village in Greater Noida — one of the fast-developing real estate hubs on the outskirts of Delhi, officials said on Wednesday.
The collapse in Shahberi village, some 30 km east of the capital, took place between 8.30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, apparently due to “too much moisture in the walls of their basements and poor construction material used” in the buildings, an official told IANS.
While the number of people trapped was not known, residents estimated that some 50 persons, mostly labourers, may be lying under the heap of the rubble.
The rescuers found three bodies in the morning. By late afternoon, they spotted another whose one leg was initially visible through the broken slabs of concrete. It took them three to four hours to retrieve the fourth body, apparently of a female.
The only body identified was of Rajneesh Bhuimali, 36, who worked as a mason. He had called his wife in an east Delhi neighbourhood on Tuesday evening, saying he had decided to stay back because he could not finish the day’s work on time.
Rescue efforts were on till late Wednesday evening as the rescuers cut through the concrete and iron rods using drills, sledgehammers and chain saws. Sniffer dogs were also being used at the site to smell for signs of life.
Roads leading to the area were dug up at several places apparently due to ongoing construction work. The pits were filled with water from monsoon rains, making it difficult to take cranes and drilling machines to the site.
Four persons, including the builder Ganga Prasad Dwivedi, have been taken into custody, Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (Meerut Zone) Prashant Kumar told IANS.
The area where multi-storey shopping and residential complexes is a ubiquitous sight is still under-developed with rocky roads strewn with mud and water.
Labourers live in half-constructed structures and their number is not known.
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed on Tuesday night.
“The mobile NDRF team reached the spot as soon as we got the the information. Three more teams were deployed later,” NDRF Director General Sanjay Kumar told IANS.
“The spot is difficult to reach due to narrow roads. But we are trying our best,” Sanjay Kumar said, in response to complaints from the residents that the rescue was slow.
The NDRF officials said it would take several hours before the debris is cleared.
The incident took place when an under construction building collapsed on a four-storey building in which a family of four, including a one-year-old girl, had shifted recently.
The rescue operations were hampered at night due to poor visibility.
Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate Brajesh Narayan Singh ordered a probe by Additional District Magistrate Kumar Vineet. He has been asked to submit his report within 15 days.
The probe will also check if the two buildings fall in the notified area of the Greater Noida Authority and also whether a no-objection certificate (NoC) was procured before the construction began.
An official told IANS that both the building may have been built illegally.
Residents complained that the two structures were made of sub-standard building material and blamed the catastrophe on weak enforcement of regulations and rampant structures coming up in the area.
They also complained that the resuers reached the site late and took time to begin with.