Angry relatives clash with police at LNJP Hospital
"It was a tragedy waiting to happen, but I did not know that it will destroy so many lives,” said Shakareen, who sat terrified and grief-stricken outside the Lok Nayak Hospital emergency section where people injured in the building collapse in the Chandni Mahal area of Old Delhi on Tuesday evening were being rushed.
“I was near the building when it collapsed. I heard a loud rumbling sound and because four members of my family – Fatima (mother), two brothers Naseer and Firoz and sister Tabsasum -- live there, I ran towards the building only to find rubble and dust all around. People were running helter-skelter and screaming. All the four were buried under the debris and were pulled out and brought to the hospital. I don't have any news about their health condition. There is rampant illegal construction happening in the area. Since this was an old building we knew that it wasn't strong, we knew it would collapse someday because of the illegal construction around it. But I had no idea that it would injure my entire family,'' she said.
Hospital authorities said till late Tuesday evening they had received about 30 injured patients of whom five died – including four women – while the condition of four others is very critical.
“The worst-affected in the building collapse were the pavement dwellers who were caught unaware. I live in the building opposite and between 7-45 p.m. and 8 p.m. I heard a loud sound and screaming. When I went outside I realised that the old building had collapsed and there was utter confusion all around. Later the local people came together and started pulling out those stuck under the debris. Right after the collapse the electricity went off which added to the confusion. We have lost a relative Arshad who has two young children,” said Sultan as he tried to pacify the distraught family members of the deceased.
Lack of information about the health status of the injured also resulted in angry relatives clashing with the police stationed at the hospital. Relatives tried to snatch and break the stretchers kept ready for the patients being brought to the hospital and then even tried to break the iron gate of the hospital's emergency section. The angry mob also did not allow Union Minister and Chandni Chowk MP Kapil Sibal to enter the hospital premises.
“We have been waiting outside the hospital to get information on how our friends and family members are doing but there is just very little information that the hospital is providing to us. We are distressed because of the lack of information,” said Kasim Malik, who sustained minor injured in the building collapse.
“Since I had only superficial injures I joined with the locals to pull out my friends and other people stuck under the debris and brought them to the hospital. My friend Naimb had four members of his family who got trapped under the debris and we now hear that two are dead. There should be a system where information is readily available to the waiting relatives, as lack of information only adds to the problems,” added Mr. Malik.
Meanwhile, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari and Delhi Mayor Rajni Abbi also visited the injured in the hospital. “All help is being provided by the hospital authorities to ensure that best treatment is provided to the injured. So far we have confirmed report of five deaths. I appeal to the relatives of the deceased and injured to maintain peace and co-operate with the hospital staff.”
Holding the rampant illegal construction in the area responsible for the tragedy, Ms. Abbi said: “The MCD isn't carrying out construction in the area it is the people who are doing it and despite several warnings asking them to stop this illegal activity we haven't received favourable response from them. We will look into the incident.”