The 117-year-old building in the congested Bhendi Bazaar area in south Mumbai came crashing down yesterday morning, two days after torrential rain brought the city to its knees.
Around 15 people injured in the collapse are undergoing treatment at the state-run JJ Hospital, a senior police official said. The dead include 24 men, nine women and a 20-day-old baby, the police said.
The search operation by personnel of the fire department, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Mumbai's civic agency were on a war footing as they pulled out 10 bodies from under the rubble since last night.
Located in the congested Pakmodia Street, the dilapidated Husaini Building housed several families and godowns. It also housed a play school but children had not arrived yet when the tragedy occurred.
The tragedy struck barely two days after torrential rain brought the city to its knees, crippling road, rail and air services, inundating homes and leaving at least 10 people dead. Many suspect the downpour caused further damage to the ramshackle structure, thereby causing its crash.
The Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT), which was to have undertaken redevelopment of the old structure, said the building housed a total of 13 tenants -- 12 residential and one commercial. "Of them, the trust had already shifted seven families in 2013-14," it said in a statement.
"MHADA notices dated March 28 and May 20, 2011, declaring the building dilapidated, were issued along with an offer of transit accommodation to the remaining tenants and occupants," it said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday visited the spot and announced a solatium of Rs five lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased. He also said that the entire medical expenses of those injured will be borne by the state government.
This was the second major building collapse in the city in just over a month, after the crash of a residential complex in suburban Ghatkopar on July 25, which left 17 people dead.
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