A family of four, including an infant, had just moved into the newly constructed building that came under its adjacent under-construction six-storey in Greater Noida last night.
The house-warming party on Saturday was attended by their extended family and friends. Most of the guests had left and the host, his mother, wife and an infant daughter were at home when the next-door structure came crashing down.
Twenty four hours since the collapse, a woman and a child's bodies are amongst the seven bodies recovered so far. Devastated family members waited around the rubble all day, weeping as they heard about the recovery of the first body of a woman.
Earlier in the day, two families identified the bodies of two men, Shamshad from Faizabad, and Ranjeet from West Bengal.
The seven bodies that were pulled out from under the massive wreckage didn't include the family members of Mr Kumar's close friend.
About 18 families lived in the four-storey building in the Shah Beri village. The construction workers, who were working on another project, were staying on the ground floor.
"Two more families were to move in, but deferred their plans as the elevators in the building were still not functional," Mr Kumar said.
"We were having dinner when we heard a loud thud. We thought it was an earthquake. When we looked outside, there was dust everywhere. Then we saw the top floors of the building collapsing," Mintu Dekka, who lives in the neighbourhood, said.
About 15 persons are expected to be trapped under the rubble. Over 400 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel, 200 policemen and numerous fire engines have been involved in the rescue operations.
The NDRF is using sniffer dogs, sensors and cameras to search for people while cranes are clearing the rubble.
A first information report or an FIR has been filed which names at least 24 persons. Four people, including the man who owned the under-construction site, have already been arrested.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced compensation for the victims and asked the Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate and the police to monitor relief and rescue operations.
District Magistrate BN Singh told NDTV that it appears the builder was carrying out this construction illegally and had not had his plans cleared. Two project managers have already been suspended by the UP government.
The rescue teams are treading cautiously at the site as there is a risk of the debris falling. "This is an unstable collapse. We are working very cautiously here," PK Srivastava, the NDRF officer leading the operation, told NDTV.
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