Toll climbs to two in the cave-in of three-storey illegal structure

One more body was retrieved on Thursday morning from the rubble of the three-storey building that had caved in on Wednesday in Garudacharpalya near Mahadevapura in the city, taking the death toll to two.

The recovery of the body of Sabanna (25) on Thursday morning was preceded by confusion over the identity of the body that had been found late on Wednesday. While the rescue personnel were trying to trace Sabanna, they had stumbled upon the body, which was later identified as that of Mohan Nair (55), engineer and building contactor.

Sabanna’s mother Mahadevi, who had waited anxiously throughout the rescue operation, had said the body recovered on late Wednesday was not her son’s.

Son identifies body

Subsequently, it turned out to be that of Mohan Nair, and it was identified by his son Sujit. Nair was wearing a watch, jeans and a T-shirt, and had his cellphone and some cash on him.

A fire force personnel said rescuers had not expected to find another body. “All along, we were carrying out the operation to bring out Sabanna.”

Although Mr. Sujith had told the police that his father could have been trapped inside the building, the police had assumed the contractor was absconding fearing penal action for the building collapse.

After the body was retrieved past midnight, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) personnel began demolishing the building by 1 a.m. Thursday. By 6 a.m., it was totally razed.

Rescue personnel, who continued the search for Sabanna’s body after the demolition, finally located it amid the rubble around noon. Lakshmikant Yadav, one of the firemen involved in the operation, said: “We had a tough time as he was stuck under the debris.”

Rumours of more

Even as Sabanna’s body was removed after a 24-hour operation, there were rumours doing the rounds that the building watchman was also trapped inside.

However K.S Nagaraj, a Sub-Inspector of Police said: “We don’t think there is any other body. However, we will clear the entire premises and search if there are any.”

Police said that the building owner, Manjunath Naik, is absconding but criminal cases had been filed against him under section 337,338, 304 A of the Indian Penal Court and 320, 321 Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976.

An employee of a bottle cap manufacturing unit, located on an adjacent piece of land, said: “We don’t know where Mr. Naik is. The employees have been asked not to come.”

Illegal structure

Munikrishna, BBMP Chief Engineer for Mahadevapura, said: “The building was an illegal construction.”

Asked why there was no monitoring by the BBMP of such an unauthorised construction, he did not give a satisfactory reply. He beat about the bush saying: “The owners should have constructed bigger and wider concrete columns to support the three-storey structure. We will take action against them.”

The government has not yet announced any compensation for the families of the two who lost their lives in the site accident.

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