At least four persons were killed when a portion of the century-old Lansdowne Building here caved in on Saturday evening, raising questions about the safety of the heritage structure.

A DTP centre, Latha Enterprises, was functioning on the ground floor of the building, and DTP operators and a few customers were inside when the roof caved in around 6 p.m. owing to heavy rain during the past two days. The victims were identified as Gnanaprakash, the tenant who was running the DTP centre; Anand, his brother; Annapurna, an employee; and Lokesh, a customer.

The roof of a shop on the first floor caved in adding to the load on the ceiling of the ground floor shop, which crashed instantly and buried the four alive.

Though eyewitnesses said there were at least four persons inside the shop when the roof caved in, the police stepped up search and rescue operations to ascertain if there are more people trapped in the debris, but called it off around 8.30 p.m. The entire area was cordoned off and traffic was diverted to ensure smooth rescue operations. Commissioner of Police K.L. Sudheer, Deputy Commissioner P.S. Vastrad and other senior officers reached the spot and supervised the rescue operations.

Mysore City Corporation Commissioner M.R. Ravi attributed the collapse of a portion of the structure to leakage in the ceiling of the first floor due to torrential rain in the city. Mr. Ravi said the incident raised questions about the safety of the structure, though engineers and a technical team did not deem the building unsafe.

District in-charge Minister S.A. Ramdas visited the spot and announced compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to the family members of the deceased . He has convened a meeting of all tenants of the building at 10 a.m. on Sunday to discuss whether to relocate the tenants or allow them to continue their commercial activity after strengthening the structure.