Yet again, most of the victims in the accident were workers from A.P and Odisha

With the horrors of the Moulivakkam building collapse still fresh in residents’ minds, the dangerous living conditions of migrant labourers was again in the spotlight on Sunday at the site of the compound wall collapse in Ponneri where eleven persons were killed.

For the past two months, the 12 workers from Andhra Pradesh and Orissa had been living in huts that were built along a compound wall of a godown tucked away from the village. Although only a few metres away from the site where they worked, the area was cut off from the village. After hours of the rain, the entire area was filled with puddles of water and the slush made the ground slippery. The closest shops to the hutment were on the main Uparapalayam Road, around a kilometre away and the only structures nearby were godowns.

Of the 10 victims, who were identified, eight were from the Srikakulam District in Andhra Pradesh and two – Ajith Mandal and Lima Mandal – were from Orissa. Six men, four women and one child were killed in the accident. The bodies of the deceased – Pentaiyya (45), Lakshmi (35), Jayammal (65), Simmadri (40), Sensaiyya (45), Ramu (19), Kondaiyya (58) and Jegadish (2) – were taken to the Government Hospital Tiruvallur for post-mortem, the police said.

Five huts that were built along the compound wall were all crushed in the accident. The one survivor was taken to the Padiyanallur Emergency Care Centre and sent to Stanley after stabilization. Authorities are still waiting for the arrival of the families of the victims from their villages, Tiruvallur District Collector V. Raghava Rao said.

Cases have been registered against the A. Bala from M.A. Nagar in Redhills, owner of the godown whose wall collapsed; M. Vasanthi also from M.A. Nagar in Red Hills, the owner of the construction site, where these workers were engaged and against N. Devendran, the contractor who had engaged these workers.

Timeline of events:

2.30 a.m: Wall collapses and crushes the hutment, killing 11 people including a two-year-old boy

7 a.m: A milkman notices the collapse and alerts residents, who in turn begin rescue operations and recover 8 bodies

8 a.m: Local police and fire and rescue services personnel begin to arrive and efforts start in earnest

9 a.m: Survivor taken to Padiyanallur Emergency Centre and later to Stanley Medical Centre

12.30 p.m: Bodies, debris cleared from the spot. Collector orders the demolition of the entire length of the compound wall

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