Raigad Building Collapse: 4-yr-old rescued after 19 hrs under rubble

The Raigad Police have registered an offence of culpable homicide against two builders, the architect, the RCC consultant, the chief executive officer and an engineer of the Mahad Municipality, in connection with the collapse of a five-storey building on Monday.

The number of fatalities has risen to 14, with the deaths of 14 persons trapped in the debris.

Earlier in the day, a four-year-old child who had been trapped in the rubble for more than 19 hours, was rescued. As operations were underway, the rescue team, spotting a child under the debris, started clearing the structure with help of a gas cutter and other machines.

A video captured the momentary relief of the NDRF team and local officials cheering and clapping to express their joy on finding the boy alive. Local residents, watching the operation with bated breath, chanted 'Ganpati Bappa Morya', as the child was lifted onto a stretcher. The child seemed bewildered after his night-long ordeal and had some minor injuries on his body, according to an official. NDRF Director General S N Pradhan termed the rescued boy as god's child.

However, this joy was shortlived, as less than a half hour later, the lifeless body of his 30-year-old mother, Naushin Nadim Bangi, and his two sisters, aged 7 and 2, were also recovered from the debris.

The child's aunt said she was happy to see him safe.

An offence has been registered against builder Farooq Kazi, RCC consultant Bahubali Dhamne, and architect Gaurav Shah, under sections 304, 304A and 338 of the Indian Penal Code. Maharashtra Minister for Urban Development Eknath Shinde, who oversaw the rescue and relief work, said, “We will not spare anyone. Information is being gathered on whether a structural audit of this building was conducted,” he said.

The guardian minister of Raigad district, Aditi Tatkare, said a full-fledged inquiry would be carried out by a high-powered committee.

Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar, who visited the site, has announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the six people who were injured in the building crash. The government will also bear the expenses for the treatment of the injured. ''Those who lost their houses should be given some help. Hence, we'll put this before the state cabinet on Wednesday. We will not spare those responsible for this incident. They murdered innocent people. The quality of construction material used was very poor,'' he noted.

The 10-year-old building collapsed on Monday evening and around 25 people were initially feared trapped. Raigad Superintendent of Police (SP) Anil Paraskar said the collapsed building had 95 residents. There were 48 flats housing 200-225 people in the two wings of the building, of which at least 20 flats were locked as the occupants had moved out during the present lockdown.

The preliminary probe has revealed the building to have been constructed on marshy land, near a lake. It was reportedly built by local contractors without a plinth and this seems to be the real reason for the crash. Former legislator Manikrao Jagtap told The Free Press Journal, ''The steel and cement used in the construction was of inferior quality.''

President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Modi tweeted their condolences.

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