Four women, a two-year-old boy among the victims; 2 labourers rescued

Ten labourers and a two-year-old boy were buried alive under the debris after a five-floor building under construction collapsed here on the bustling Narayanguda main road on Friday. Among the victims were four women.

Police, fire-service personnel and locals managed to rescue two labourers trapped under the debris using poclains and cranes, but the thousands of people thronging the area delayed rescue operations. Nearly 15 labourers were working on the fifth floor when the building caved in around 2.30 p.m.

Anxious parents of the students of Brilliant Grammar School, adjacent to the building, rushed to the spot. Fortunately, the school building developed only minor cracks on one side and no one was injured. Teachers, with the help of locals, evacuated the students within minutes.

Originally, it was a building of the erstwhile City Improvement Board Quarters. A builder had taken it for development and constructed five floors. “Having completed the slab work, walls were being constructed. It appears improper curing of walls weakened the structure leading to the building’s collapse,” Narayanguda Inspector G. Jogaiah said.

As the rubble, bricks and broken concrete blocks fell on the road between the collapsed building and the abutting fly-over, manoeuvring cranes and poclains became difficult. While police struggled to keep crowds of onlookers and the battery of media personnel off the spot, absence of a unified command and disaster management teams complicated rescue operations.

There was no one to answer the queries of the shocked families of the victims. “My younger sister, Nirmala, was trapped inside. One policeman asks me to go to Gandhi Hospital mortuary and another says to find out with Osmania hospital,” cried Aruna of Baghlingampally.

Despite the presence of top brass of police, municipal and fire service personnel, confusion prevailed on how to clear the debris even as two labourers trapped inside cried for help. It took more than two hours for the officials to clear the huge concrete block that fell on top of the debris under which most of the labourers were trapped.

Officials suspended

Majority of the victims were from neighbouring Medak and Mahabubnagar districts. Home Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy instructed the police to arrest the builder immediately after inspecting the spot. Three GHMC officials were also suspended. A case under section 304-A (rash and negligent act resulting in death) of Indian Penal Code was registered.