At least nine people, including an year-old infant, were killed and several feared trapped under the rubble of two adjacent buildings which collapsed in Greater Noida on the outskirts of the national capital.
A six-floor under-construction building crashed on a four-storey building next to it, bringing it down as well, in Shahberi village under Bisrakh police station last night. At least 12 labourers were in the under-construction building and all of them are feared trapped, Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Arun Kumar Singh said.
Two bodies were pulled out of the rubble late last night and another removed this morning as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the fire department and the police mounted a rescue operation. This evening, about 20 hours after the buildings collapsed, two more bodies were brought out. The bodies of the infant and an unidentified woman were recovered at around 9pm on Wednesday.
#LatestVisuals from the site of building collapse in #GreaterNoida's Shah Beri village. Death toll in the incident rises to 7; Search and rescue operation is still underway. pic.twitter.com/6FdZyWEqnv— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 18, 2018
Rescuers deployed heavy machinery to shift concrete slabs and sniffer dogs tried to detect any signs of life.
A crowd of people hung around the mishap site, including some who believed their relatives were trapped under the debris. Local politicians and media teams thronged the area as NDRF personnel asked people to keep away.
Those involved in the rescue operations were facing difficulties because of the narrow lanes in the area and the huge crowd, the CFO said.
Three of the victims have been identified as Ranjit, Shamshad and Priyanka. Three members of Priyanka's family are still trapped, the fire chief said.
The police have arrested three people, including the landowner, Meerut zone Inspector General Ram Kumar said. The FIR mentioned 18 people who may face a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate Brajesh Narayan Singh has also ordered an investigation. "Additional District Magistrate (Administration) Kumar Vineet has been asked to carry out the probe. He will submit his report within 15 days," his order said. The state government has suspended the senior Greater Noida officials, including city Project Manager VP Singh and Assistant Project Manager Abbas Zaidi.
Drills were being used in an attempt to reach those who may be trapped under the debris..
NDRF Director General Sanjay Kumar also took stock of the rescue operations.
He said the rescuers were exercising caution while operating the machines so that those trapped under the debris are not harmed.
Kumar said the rescue operations were expected to be over by tomorrow.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the Gautam Budh Nagar DM to monitor the relief and rescue operations. Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh briefed him about the operations.
The chief minister has announced a ex-gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh for the next of the kin of deceased in the tragedy and Rs 50,000 for those injured.
A state government statement said the magisterial probe will find out whether the buildings were under the jurisdiction of the Greater Noida Development Authority and if a no-objection certificate (NOC) was obtained before the construction began.
It will also determine if the quality of the building material was up to the mark and the construction workers were registered in accordance with the labour laws.
The DM in his order said the probe will also focus on whether the Greater Noida authority had taken any concrete steps to stop illegal construction in the area.
In a press statement, the Greater Noida authority CEO Parth Sarthi Sen Sharma said Shahberi is a notified village under phase-1 of Greater Noida. But the notification related to acquisition of land there was cancelled by a Supreme Court order in May 2011, he said.
Those arrested are landowner Gangashankar Dwivedi and two others identified as Dinesh and Sanjay. The police registered an FIR under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 288 (negligent conduct related to the repair of buildings) against 24 people.
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