Shimla: Six more bodies were retrieved on Monday from the debris of a building collapse in Himachal Pradesh’ Solan district, taking the death toll to 14, officials said.
Twenty-eight people, including 17 Army personnel and 11 civilians, were injured after the four-storey building, which housed a restaurant, collapsed on the Nahan-Kumarhatti Road on Sunday evening following heavy rains, they said.
The bodies of 13 Army personnel and a civilian were extricated from the debris, the officials said.
“The operation is still underway to find out if any other person is still trapped under the rubble,” Deputy Commissioner K C Chaman said. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who visited the spot on Monday morning, said initial investigation has found that the structure was not built up to specifications.
“A magisterial inquiry has already been ordered. Strict legal action will be taken against erring persons after getting the report,” he said.
A first information report (FIR) was registered against the owner of the building, he added.
“There are more such buildings in the state. Owners have constructed them without following building by-laws. Whatever is required to be done, will be done to check it,” he said. The chief minister said, “Necessary equipment was airlifted on Sunday evening itself through a helicopter from Shimla’s Sunni to carry out the rescue work by the NDRF.”
An injured soldier told reporters from the hospital that when the building collapsed, there were 35 Army personnel inside it, of whom 30 were Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs).
He said Army personnel belonging to the 4 Assam Regiment of nearby Dagshai Cantonment went to the restaurant “to party as it was a Sunday but suddenly the building shook and collapsed in no minutes”. Another injured person Rakesh Kumar, said that about 50 people, including several Army personnel, restaurant staff and other customers were in the building when it collapsed.
“We thought it was a quake and did not know how the building collapsed and we were trapped under the debris. I remained trapped for about 10-15 minutes after which some people rescued me,” he added.
The Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police initially carried out the rescue operation.
Subsequently, two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams — one each from Haryana’s Panchkula and Shimla’s Sunni — reached the spot later in the night to carry out the rescue work, Director-cum-Special Secretary Revenue and Disaster Management, D C Rana told PTI.
A third NDRF team from Panchkula joined the rescue operation on Monday morning, he added.