Four children, aged between 6 and 14 years, and their 35-year-old tutor were killed when a portion of an under-construction three-storey building collapsed in northeast Delhi’s Bhajanpura on Saturday. Eight other people, who were also in the building, were injured, rescue officials said.
Delhi Police said the building housed a tuition centre and that they have started an investigation into the collapse, which will also examine if the tuition centre, as well as the building, had requisite permits.
Police identified the five dead as — Dishu (14), Krishna (9), Farhan (6), Kirti (10) and Umesh (35). The four children were residents of colonies near Bhajanpura and visited the coaching centre — Education Point — for classes after school.
Police said the teacher, Umesh, was one of the two people who owned the building and the coaching centre. Umesh’s brother Shankar, the other owner, has been detained and a case of causing death due to negligence has been registered, said deputy commissioner of police (north-east) Ved Prakash Surya.
Delhi Fire Service director Atul Garg said the fire control room got a call around 4.30pm of a building collapse in Subhash Mohalla, Bhajanpura and many children were feared buried under the debris. Garg said 10 fire tenders were rushed to the spot and personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) as well as the civil defence were also roped in.
A fire-fighter, who was part of the rescue operations, said coaching classes were usually held on the first and second floors of the building while the third was under construction. Saturday’s classes, however, were all being conducted from one room on the second floor, he said.
“The first floor was being renovated, and as a result all classes had been moved to the second floor, which only has two rooms. And since one of these rooms was being used to store construction material, 12 children had been crammed inside one room on Saturday. This is when a portion of the third floor fell on them,” said the fire-fighter requesting anonymity.
Mohammad Asif, whose cousin was injured in the incident, said they rushed to the spot soon as they heard the news. “Before fire-fighters or rescuers could arrive, we pulled out as many children we could. The rescue teams arrived in around 20 minutes and started digging out the debris to pull out the victims,” he said. Asif said the two brothers who owned the coaching centre were constructing a third floor on the building.
Ramesh Kumar, the father of 9-year-old Krishna who died in the incident, said his three children — two daughters and a son — were inside the building when it collapsed. “Krishna was stuck under the debris and could only be pulled out dead. My eldest daughter, 11, and the youngest, 7, were also there for classes, but they survived and are out of danger.”
Kumar works as a tailor in the area.
The victims were rushed to the nearby Jag Parvesh Chander Hospital. Dr Adarsh Kumar, medical superintendent of Jag Parvesh Chander Hospital said, “A total of eight people were brought to the hospital, of them four were dead when they reached here. The others have minor injuries — blunt injuries and some soft tissue injuries. They have kept under observation at the hospital.”
The bodies of the five people who died have been sent to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital for autopsy.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bharatiya Janata Party’s North East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari visited the spot on Saturday evening and met local residents.
In a similar incident, on December 31, a portion of a three-storey under-construction building collapsed in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri area and eight labourers were trapped inside the building. However, no deaths were reported in the incident. Two months before this, two people were killed and three were wounded when a four-storey building collapsed in northeast Delhi’s Seelampur.
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