Mumbai building collapse toll 61; proprietor arrested
The toll in Friday's four-storey building crash here mounted to 61, with eight more bodies recovered from the debris Sunday morning, authorities said.
After nearly 48 hours of efforts, the combined rescue operations were called off early Sunday as the possibility of finding more bodies was ruled out, as the weather continued to play truant.
Yogesh Pawar, 31, a journalist with Sakal newspaper, and his father Anant Pawar, a civic employee, were among the victims in the state's second worst building collapse tragedy this year.
Situated near the Dockyard Road in south Mumbai, the 33-year-old building served as civic employees' staff quarters.
Housing around 21 families, it collapsed around 5.45 a.m. Friday, catching a majority of the sleeping residents unaware, the official said.
Mumbai police arrested the proprietor of a marquee decoration firm, who had allegedly carried out illegal modifications on the ground floor of the doomed building.
Suspected renovation and alterations carried out in his office-cum-warehouse may have led to further weakening of the dilapidated structure and hastening its collapse.
On a complaint by a civic official, Sewree police nabbed Ashokkumar J. Mehta of Mamamiya Decorators under various charges pertaining to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, according to Additional Police Commissioner (South) Krishna Prakash.
He has been sent to three days police custody and the police are on the lookout for some of his associates.
The 28-flat building, of which seven were unoccupied, and a ground floor warehouse, leased to the marquee decorating firm, was declared "extremely dilapidated" a few years ago.
Last month, it was surveyed by a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) team which recommended urgent repairs after shifting the families living there.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced a compensation of Rs.1 lakh, and city Mayor Sunil Prabhu announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh, to the families of each of the deceased.
(Posted on 29-09-2013)