None trapped under debris, say police

The roof of an under-construction mall inside one of the city’s most expensive private township project collapsed, injuring six migrant workers on Saturday night.

Those injured have been identified as workers from the States of Jharkhand and Bihar. They are Dileep Pathak, Nizamuddin, Sujith Kahar, Jayant Malik, Mahadev, and Jehangir. All of them have been rushed to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital.

While the police say the preliminary findings “definitely” point to safety lapse in the construction of the multi-storey building, the project owners dismiss it as a “normal work site accident.”

The accident occurred at around 9.30 p.m. on the fifth-floor of the building inside the HiLite City complex near Thondayad bypass in the city. “We had just completed the concretisation of the portion where the accident happened.

Some workers were building a bund when the accident happened,” said a person associated with the project.

The accident site is a mangled heap of iron roads, scaffolding, bamboo, iron boards, wooden planks and cement mix. A narrow, unlit staircase through the half-made building weaves its way up to the site. A neighbour, said on the condition of anonymity, that he heard a loud crash and rushed to spot with a crowd of local people. It was the locals who extricated the six injured from the debris, called the police and the Fire and Rescue Services.

Residents said the lack of streetlights on the bypass was also a hindrance in the crucial first moments of the rescue operations until the Fire and Rescue Services came with their high-beam lights.

A private contractor with the project said at the site that 14 persons were involved in the work at the accident site.

The accident happened even as Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s mass contact programme was on its last leg a few km away in the city.

“We rushed about 500 police personnel to the spot. There were four fire units. The public helped in the rescue. We are sure there is no one still trapped inside, but we are still checking,” K.B. Venugopal, Deputy Commissioner of Police, told The Hindu.

On the police’s side, Inspector-General of Police, Kannur Range, Suresh Raj Purohit, who was also directing rescue operations, confirmed that there were no missing workers and a head count had been taken with the help of the contractor concerned.

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