Mumbai is not new to tragedies. On Tuesday morning, not just a building collapsed but the creaking infrastructure of India's largest city too came out exposed.
It was 11.40 am when four-storeyed Kesarbai building in South Mumbai's congested Dongri locality came down in a flash of seconds. Rescue operations immediately kicked in. But challenges were no less. It was a narrow road. The National Disaster Response Force jawans could not get earth-moving equipment near the rubble. So they had no option but to carry out the search-and-rescue operation manually. Not just this, onlookers too crowded the site and lanes leading to it threw up problems of quick evacuation of the injured to ambulances and onward to hospitals. However, there were several other people who were seen lending a helping hand or trying to stay out of the way of those officially tasked with bringing out those trapped.
The deaths in the tragedy, which were initially reported to be two, mounted up to 11 by the end of the day. Worrying is the fact that there are 40 others still trapped under the debris. Rescue operations may be hampered overnight, and are expected to gather pace as the sun sets in on Wednesday morning.
Lets' go back in time and have a closer look at how Mumbai crumbled over the years:
July 2, 2019: 29 dead and 70 injured after a compound wall collapses on a slum in suburban Malad
March 15, 2019: Six killed and 30 injured when a foot overbridge outside the iconic CSMT railway station collapses
December 23, 2018: Three people are dead and six injured after a ground-plus two chawl built by the state-run agency Mhada collapses in suburban
July 28, 2018: A part of the 47-year-old Gokhale Road Bridge in suburban Andheri collapses on the rail track below killing two local train passengers.
September 27, 2017: 23 railway commuters killed and 39 injured in stampede on a foot overbridge at then Elphinstone Road railway station.
September 1, 2017: 33 people killed as 117-year-old five-storey Husaini Building collapses in Bhendi Bazar in South Mumbai.
July 26, 2017: 17 dead and 22 injured after four-storey Sai Siddhi apartment in suburban Ghatkopar collapses. Local Shiv Sena leader arrested for allegedly carrying out structural changes on the ground floor which led to collapse.
September 27, 2013: 61 people killed and 32 injured as four-storey Babu Genu Market building housing civic body employees collapses.
April 4, 2013: 74 people, including 18 children, killed as an unauthorized under-construction building collapses near Mumbra in neighbouring Thane.
But wait. What was common all these years? Building collapses, deaths and blame game...
Who is responsible?
Both MHADA and BMC seem to have washed their hands off, blaming the failure on each other. Earlier in the day, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said it had advised evacuation of Kesarbai building two years ago. However, it came with a twist. In a letter dated July 31, 2017, BMC also mentioned that the building was actually a cessed building of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), over which it had no jurisdiction.
Later, MHADA said the building was unauthorised, adding it was not under its supervision.
So, who is to be blamed? Will the government too simply shrug off responsibility? More questions than answers...