NEW DELHI: With hope ebbing every passing minute, rescuers on Tuesday continued to search for possible survivors under the debris of an unauthorised five-storey building here that caved in a day earlier, killing at least 65 people.
The police slapped a case of negligence against the building’s owner, Mr Amrit Singh, who has been on the run ever since all floors of the building collapsed on Monday night in east Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar, entombing dozens of migrant labourers from Bihar and West Bengal.
The Delhi Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit, who visited the site on Tuesday, said the death toll had risen to 65. At least 80 injured were admitted to four hospitals, many of them battling for their lives after receiving head injuries as bricks and cement rained on them, a police official said.
The tragedy took place in the congested locality near the Yamuna river in east Delhi around 8:15 p.m.
On Tuesday morning, even as rescue work continued, there was complete chaos in the area.
Ms Dikshit squarely blamed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi for the collapse, saying the building was constructed without authorisation.
“There is definitely negligence on the part of MCD,” said Ms Dikshit, describing the accident as “unprecedented”. “Without an NoC, no building is considered liveable. It was an unauthorised building… A magisterial enquiry has been ordered and we will wait for the report to take action. A case has been registered against the owner of the building by police,” she added.
Ms Dikshit announced a compensation amount of Rs 2 lakh to the families of those who lost their lives. The injured will be given a compensation amount of Rs 50,000 each.
The MCD, however, said they will wait for the enquiry report for further action.
The MCD spokesperson, Mr Deep Mathur said: “We are cooperating in the enquiry. This is a low-lying area and the flood waters seeped into the basement of the building and weakened the foundation, which maybe the primary cause of the collapse.”
The rescue work continued through the night but the work, officials admitted, was daunting considering the scale of the tragedy — five collapsed floors and several tonnes of brick, mortar and entire cemented floors.
The Delhi Lt General, Mr Tejender Khanna said: “We have got in touch with Professor S K Bhattacharya at the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee who will bring a team to do a survey of the Shahdara zone (in east Delhi)”.
“Any building found unsafe will be considered for retro-fitting. But if a building is found not worth that, then it will be sealed and demolished.
There has always been a question mark on the safety of buildings in this area.”