• Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Headline News

Mumbai billboard collapse kills 14

Members of rescue teams stand next to damaged vehicles after a massive billboard fell during a rainstorm in Mumbai, India, May 14, 2024. (REUTERS/Hemanshi Kamani)

By: Shajil Kumar

Police in Mumbai have opened a criminal case against the owner of a huge billboard that collapsed on a petrol station and killed 14 people, media reports said Tuesday.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Vivek Phansalkar has assured strict action against those responsible for the incident.

The 120 x 120 square feet illegal hoarding in the city’s eastern suburb Ghatkopar collapsed on Monday as fierce winds buffeted the city, accompanied by rain and dust storms.

Many cars and pedestrians on the nearby busy road got trapped under the collapsed hoarding.

Local authorities confirmed Tuesday that 14 people had died in the accident with 75 more injured, with rescue operations still underway.

“Medical treatment is currently being provided to 44 injured individuals, with 31 already discharged after receiving treatment,” the city’s municipal corporation said in a post on social media platform X.

“Unfortunately, 14 people (succumbed) to death in this mishap,” it added. “Rescue operations are ongoing at the site.”

Gaurav Chauhan of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told AFP that the billboard’s collapse on top of a petrol pump had complicated rescue efforts.

“We are not able to use equipment in case of fire and other hazards… so we are using heavy cranes just to remove the debris,” he said.

Media reports said Mumbai police had filed a culpable homicide case against the owner of Ego Media, the company identified as having installed the signage.

Police in the city could not be reached for comment by AFP on Tuesday morning and there was no sign that the owner had been taken into police custody.

City councillor Rakhee Jadhav told AFP that the collapse was avoidable, blaming shoddy construction.

“This is not a disaster. If this hoarding would have been properly installed… these casualties would have not happened,” she said.

“This area is a marshland and it is also a low-lying area,” she added. “The foundation of that hoarding should have gone more near the rock.”

“To prevent such accidents from happening again, instructions have been given to conduct a structural audit of all hoardings in Mumbai and immediately take down dangerous ones,” Eknath Shinde, the chief minister of Maharashtra, said in a post on X.

The storm that hit Mumbai on Monday uprooted trees and caused brief power outages in various neighbourhoods around the city, also disrupting the city’s train network.

Mumbai’s international airport temporarily grounded flights with at least 15 planes diverted.

Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra state, said on X that his government had ordered a “high-level inquiry” into the accident.

The state government would also make compensation payments of $6,000 (£4,792) to relatives of those killed, he added. (Agencies)

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