THANE: At least 28 persons were killed and 51 injured when an illegal seven-storied building collapsed near the Lucky Compound area of ShilPhata near Mumbra.
Around 50 people are feared trapped under the cement and concrete pile of the residential-cum-commercial building.
Local people said that more than 10 school children were attending a coaching class on the second floor of the building when it came down like a pack of cards at around 6.30pm on Thursday. Most of those rescued were labourers, who were working on the sixth and seventh floors.
Boy has lucky escape; many still trapped
The building that collapsed in the Lucky Compound area around 6pm on Thursday housed low-income families.
"Till the fifth floor, the building was occupied by residents and construction was underway on the sixth and seventh floors. People being extricated are labourers who were on the top floors. The residents are still trapped and it will require heavy machinery to pull out the concrete slabs and rescue them," said Sayed Sadiq, a local engaged in rescue work.
Among those lucky to have escaped death was Abhinandan (9), a schoolboy residing in an adjacent building. He had come to the building along with his sister Arti to attend tuitions, but his class was called off at the last moment. The building collapsed no sooner than he stepped out, but Arti was trapped under the debris.
Auto driver Mohammed Saeed desperately tried to push his way through rescue workers in an attempt to reach the site. Saeed's wife, along with their six daughters and two sons, were inside their flat when the building crashed. "I moved into the building just two weeks ago after paying Rs 1.5 lakh to the builder as the first instalment. Today, my world has collapsed," Saeed said.
The scene at the crash site was chaotic with crowds preventing easy movement of heavy machinery and ambulances.
A rescue operation was on by the fire brigade, disaster management cell, personnel from the Thane civic body and local volunteers. Municipal commissioner R A Rajeev and police chief K P Raghuvanshi were at the site.
The building was built in two months by contractors Jameel Khan and Nafiz Qureshi , two of the seven partners involved in the illegal project. They had built two seven storeyed buildings on the plot, said to be owned by a tribal. The families occupying the adjoining building vacated their flats after the collapse. Mangal Patil, a social worker, said he had complained about the illegal building to civic officials and sent an alert to Rajeev two days ago.
At the time of going to press, two girls, aged one and three, were rescued.