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Updated: February 8, 2010 13:52 IST

Building collapse: ‘disastrous’ management plan

Marri Ramu
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The preparedness of the government to manage disasters came under scanner as lack of equipment and conflicting orders from officials delayed debris removal work after a five-floor building collapsed at Narayanguda two days ago.

Contradictory decisions from different officials on where to begin debris removal work pointed out the absence of a unified command and a disaster management plan. There was indecisiveness on all matters, including whether to use poclains or cranes to remove the rubble.

If one officer wanted to pull down the concrete slab first, another preferred to send rescue teams inside to see if there were any survivors.

The huge crowds of people and groups of media personnel, no doubt, affected rescue operations. But, even after cordoning off the area, the official machinery was at sea on how to proceed with the debris clearance work without harming those trapped inside.

The medical emergency teams from EMRI, GHMC workers, police personnel were working independent of each other only ending up in confusion. Top officials of all departments were present but there was no single co-ordinating authority to make concerted efforts.

Tools like crow-bars and gas cutters to remove the debris could not be secured on time.

Even basic support equipments like oxygen masks were not kept ready. They had no advanced cameras that help make out movements of persons trapped under debris.

Interestingly, the Collapsed Structured Search and Rescue (CSSR) team from Central Industrial Security Force that was called in brought night-vision infra-red camera along with it. They had special fast response medical personnel and specialised tools to pull debris and worked under a single commanding officer. The CSSR team personnel carried a camera that can be slid even through a small gap of even few centimetre radius. After sending the camera through a cylindrical pipe, the operator can pan it in 360 degrees using a remote.

On the contrary, the State government officials could not immediately arrange even flood lights at the building collapse site to continue the debris clearance work in the night.

They managed to retrieve all bodies by Friday midnight, but work to remove the debris extended to Saturday evening.

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