Mumbai weather: 9 killed, over 70 injured as billboard and metal tower collapse amid gusty wind and rain

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde announces aid of ₹5 lakh to the next of kin of each person killed in the Mumbai Ghatkopar hoarding collapse

Updated - May 14, 2024 11:19 am IST

Published - May 13, 2024 05:31 pm IST - Mumbai

Billboard collapse on an operational petrol pump in Ghatkopar. Photo: Special Arrangement

Billboard collapse on an operational petrol pump in Ghatkopar. Photo: Special Arrangement

At least nine persons were killed and over 70 others injured on May 13 in rain-related incidents in Mumbai wherein a 100-foot tall billboard fell on a petrol pump in Ghatkopar area while an under-construction metal tower collapsed on a road amid gusty winds in Wadala, officials said.

The billboard, which was illegal according to civic officials, uprooted and fell on a petrol pump at the Cheddanagar Junction in Ghatkopar, killing eight people and injuring 70 others.

“78 people have been pulled out so far from under the hoarding, of which eight are declared dead, while 70 others were injured. They were rushed to various hospitals,” a senior police officer said, adding that the search and rescue operation is underway at the spot.

In Bandra, a branch of a tree fell on a shop, trapping two persons. “Of them, a 38-year-old died while another person was seriously injured,” a civic official said.

The unseasonal rain, accompanied by a massive dust storm, turned the sky dark at 3 p.m. and  led to the suspension of flight operations at Mumbai airport for an hour in the evening due to low visibility, services of local trains were delayed while traffic snarls were seen in several areas.

As many as 15 flights were diverted to different airports and the runways operation resumed at 5.03 p.m., the airport operator said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited the site of the hoarding collapse in Ghatkopar later in the evening. Deputy Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis said various departments were striving to rescue the trapped people.

 “It is a very unfortunate incident. The government will probe it, and the people responsible will face action. I have also asked the BMC commissioner to conduct a structural audit of all the hoardings in the city. Those found illegal and dangerous will be removed,” Mr. Shinde said.

 He announced aid of ₹5 lakh to the next of kin of each person killed in the hoarding collapse.

The “massive” hoarding collapse in Mumbai’s Chheda Nagar, Ghatkopar East, left many injured. Of the injured 61 were admitted to Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar, 3 in HBT Hospital in Juhu, 4 in M.J. Phule Vikroli and 1 in Prakruti Hospital, Kalwa, as of 9 p.m. The Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) reported the incident around 4.30p.m. Additionally 187 trees/ branches fell in various parts of Mumbai, leaving 5 injured and one dead. 

Many trapped under illegal hoarding

“It was an illegal hoarding. The location where the incident occurred has four hoardings set up on the railway land and one of them has collapsed,”  Mumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner Bhushan Gagrani said

He said the civic body would issue a notice for immediate removal of the hoarding and lodge a criminal complaint against the landholding authority and the owner of the billboard.

“The Railways has permitted to erect the hoarding,” Mr. Gagrani claimed.

Earlier in the day, a BMC official said, “At least 100 people are likely to be trapped. Search and rescue operations are underway. Agencies such as MFB, police, ward staff, 108 ambulance, National Disaster Response Force, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mahanagar Gas Limited, and Adani Energy service have been mobilised.” 

The bad weather also caused a metal scaffolding to collapse at a parking lot in Barkat Ali Naka, opposite a warehouse, near Shree Ji Tower, Wadala (East) in Mumbai around 4.22 p.m.. The incident was reported by MFB at 5.50 p.m. “The entire metal steel scaffolding near the Shree Ji tower collapsed. Around 10 vehicles were parked on the nearby roadside, and 1 person was trapped inside a car. A rescue operation is in progress,” the BMC official said.

The BMC officials said they will register a complaint against the railways and the advertisement agency M/S Ego Media located in Kalpavruksha, Mulund West under the Disaster Management Act. “The hoarding collapsed near the petrol pump at Cheda Nagar Gymkhana Recreation Centre, sector 3, Mumbai. It was placed along the roadside illegally on railway land. We had informed the railway about the legal concerns, but they failed to act. The permissible size for hoarding is 40×40. This particular hoarding was 120 × 120. The BMC has issued a notice to the agency to remove all its hoardings with immediate effect for not having valid BMC permission.” 

Refuting the BMC’s allegation, officials from the Central Railway said, “This hoarding is not on railways land, and it is not in any way related to the Indian Railways.” 

187 incidents reported

A total of 187 incidents of tree or branch fall were reported in Mumbai and suburbs, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. Of these, 16 incidents occurred in the island city, 104 in the eastern suburbs and 67 in the western suburbs.

One person was injured when the iron gate of a housing society collapsed, while a person practising on a yacht in the sea sustained a minor injury due to gusty winds.

Local train services on the Central Railway were suspended for more than two hours after the overhead equipment got damaged between two stations due to the storm and rains, inconveniencing passengers in the evening rush hour. Western Railway services were also delayed by at least 15-20 minutes.

Several parts of Mumbai witnessed heavy traffic snarls due to incidents of trees falling and rain. BEST buses were diverted at some locations due to rains and trees falling.

Rain across Mumbai

Heavy rainfall accompanied by dust storms were witnessed in the suburbs of Dadar, Kurla, Mahim, Ghatkopar, Mulund and Vikhroli, while parts of south Mumbai experienced drizzles. Thane, Ambernath, Badlapur, Kalyan and Ulhasnagar also received moderate rain.

At 3 p.m., the IMD issued a nowcast warning. “Thunderstorm accompanied by lightning and moderate to intense spells of rain with gusty winds reaching 50-60 kmph are very likely to occur at isolated places in the districts of Palghar and Thane during next 3-4 hours. Take precautions while moving out.”

Mumbai recorded rainfall ranging from 18 mm to 80 mm, with areas such as Bhandup in the eastern suburbs receiving 78 mm, Vikhroli 31 mm, Govandi East 30 mm, and Mulund West 67 mm. Dadar and Sion East in central Mumbai received 18 mm. Additionally, Kurla West saw 42 mm, Andheri West 38 mm, Andheri East 36 mm, and Goregaon West 41 mm of rainfall between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

According to officials from IMD, Mumbai, this type of thunderstorm activity lasts for an hour. Sushma Nair, scientist at IMD, Mumbai, said, “This is a pre-monsoon shower. A trough line runs along the Madhya Maharashtra that includes Pune, Nashik, Satara and Sangli. For the past 3-4 days these regions have been experiencing thunderstorm activity post afternoon. Today, it was also observed over the Konkan region. The dust was formed due to the high wind speeds. This weather pattern may continue tomorrow post afternoon and this is normal for this part of the season.”

Disruption of transport

The heavy showers on Monday disrupted public transport in Mumbai. The airlines, railways, and road authorities issued an advisory on diversion and disruptions.

Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) said, “Due to the inclement weather and dust storms in the city, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) temporarily suspended flight operations for around 66 min due to low visibility and gusty winds. During this time, the airport witnessed 15 diversions, including a Dehradun flight diverted to Ahmedabad, a Jaipur flight to Goa, and a Male (Maldives) flight to Goa.

Mumbai’s lifeline, local trains were also affected. The central line, western line, and harbour line services were behind schedule. All the trains were at least 15 minutes late. Services between Thane-Mulund were suspended after the branches of a tree fell on overhead wires (OHE). Metro services between Aarey and Andheri East metro stations were also temporarily suspended as a banner landed on the overheard wire, according to the Metro Rail spokesperson.

Similarly, BEST buses also saw disruptions on several routes and had to be diverted. Power outages were also reported in a few areas of Thane such as Kalwa.

Mamata expresses grief over deaths

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed grief over the death of several people due to the fall of a massive billboard in a dust storm in Mumbai.

She extended her condolences to the next of kin of the deceased in the accident.

“Sad to know that several people have died and many more trapped and injured in a massive billboard accident in Mumbai today evening, when the hoarding fell in a dust storm,” Ms. Banerjee said on X.

“My sincere condolences to the next of kin of the dead, and solidarity to the struggling survivors,” she added.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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