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Monday, June 10, 2013

1 killed as part of 5-storey Mahim building collapses

Mumbai: A five-storey building in Mahim became Monsoon 2013's first casualty when its rear portion collapsed on Monday evening, killing at least one and injuring several others. Fire brigade personnel were rescuing residents trapped under the debris till after midnight and officials feared more casualties as rescue operations progressed. 

    The building, Altaf Mansion, is a 40-year-old private residential building on Cadell Road near the Makdum Shah Dargah in Mahim. It has some other establishments on the ground floor. 
    The northeastern portion of the building—residents said it accounted for more than half the building's residential flats—collapsed around 8.30pm. The debris trapped many people and, though several were brought out till last reports, officials feared more were still under rubble. 
    "We cannot rule out the possibility of casualties going up," said a senior fire brigade official. 
    Of the 10 injured—including two kids and a watchman —pulled out from under the debris, 76-year-old Zaibunnisa Lakha died at Bhabha hospital in Bandra. The others were taken to hospitals. Lakha's relatives were worried about four children from the family who were still trapped. 
    Four family members of 
noted lawyer Rizwan Merchant, who represents actor Sanjay Dutt and has contested elections in the past, were also trapped. Merchant and his son were in office when they got a call about their flat going down. Merchant's 70-year-old mother, wife, daughter and other son were at home at the time. 
    The watchman, Shankar Bhoir, said the building shook abit before coming down. 
    Fire brigade officials, who rushed more than a dozen fire engines, two rescue vans and a couple of earth excavators, said rescue operations were hindered by the crowd and the heavy rain. Around 20 people were rescued from the portion that was still standing. 

    Witnesses recalled a loud crash, which prompted many to rush out of their homes near Dargah Galli despite the rain. "Neighbours started rescuing people before the fire brigade arrived," said Anwar Khan, one of the first locals to reach the spot. 
    "The rubble is almost twofloor high. We are trying to do a head count of the building residents, but there is so much confusion," said another local. 
    The BMC had served a notice on the building as it was dilapidated, some residents claimed, adding it needed urgent repairs and illegal alterations and renovation had put pressure on the structure. Some hinted that a dispute could have held up the repairs.

Despite heavy rains, rescue operations go on after the rear part of Altaf Mansion collapsed near the Makdum Shah dargah in Mahim

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