They were engaged in removing earth from a trench
Three construction workers were buried alive and three others injured when a portion of kitchen and generator shed of a hotel collapsed on the Old Madurai Road in the heart of the city on Thursday. A trench was being dug up for raising pile foundation for a commercial complex coming up in an adjacent plot.
The workers were engaged in removing earth from the trench when the structure in the backside of Hotel Sri Krishna’s collapsed.
K. Umarani (37) and Kanmani alias Tamilselvi (33), both of Maruthur village near Samayapuram, and S. Poongothai (50) of Manpidimangalam died on the spot, while Vasuki (50) and Ramesh (35) of Maruthur and Sarala (30) of Manpidimangalam were injured and admitted to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital. Six construction workers were at the site just a few feet away from the hotel when the accident took place around 2.30 p. m. Some others, including a few masons, were away for lunch. “I had gone to a neighbouring Amma canteen for lunch when the accident took place. Although 11 of us were working at the site, only five or six were engaged in clearing the earth from the pits. The women had just returned for work after lunch,” said Ganesan, a mason.
Some of the employees in adjacent shops along the roadsaid they heard a thud and rushed there to find the workers caught beneath the debris. Work was on for relocating an electric pole along the road.
Locals, Fire and Rescue Service personnel, police, members of the State Disaster Response Team and Corporation workers launched a rescue operation that lasted over three hours. A crane and an earth mover were deployed to remove the boulders and generators to rescue the workers. Traffic on the busy Old Madurai Road was blocked as police struggled to keep away curious onlookers.
Corporation officials suspect the kitchen shed to be an unauthorised structure built as an extension of the hotel.
The adjacent site, where a saw mill had been functioning till recently, was being re-developed as a commercial building by the owner.
Corporation officials said the building was being constructed with plan approval.
However, no safety measures were apparently in place at the building site except for a few poles to support the roof of the adjacent structure.