At Least four persons were killed and several others injured when a four-storey building collapsed in Uttam Nagar, West Delhi, on Saturday morning. Police have registered a case of criminal negligence against five persons.
According to police, the incident occurred around 12 pm on Saturday when the building on plot number WZ-6B, located near Uttar Nagar East Metro station, collapsed due to expansion work at the adjoining Metro Restaurant. “It was a 15-year-old four-storey building. Witnesses and neighbours told us that the restaurant owner wanted to construct pillars on a plot next to the building, and had started digging pits for that purpose. The four-storey building
could not withstand this, and it collapsed completely,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Rishi Pal.
A few persons from the neighbourhood, however, said the collapse had occurred because the restaurant owner was expanding the basement of his establishment.
Uttam Nagar house collapse: Locals help but crowds mar rescue operations
Dwaipayan Ghosh & Prerna Sodhi, TNN
| Dec 4, 2011, 02.59AM IST
NEW DELHI: They were the first ones to reach out to help. And seven hours after the incident, even as the authorities gave up hope of finding any one alive, local residents refused to budge. Over 250 young men and teenagers from the east Uttam Nagar area and Sani Bazar in particular, did all they could to save those trapped in the rubble.
Armed with buckets, a first aid kit - consisting of cotton and a bottle of antiseptic - local volunteers formed long human chains, picking up debris and trying to accelerate the rescue process.
"The lanes in this area so narrow no cars can come inside, but we somehow managed to get two cranes through. We have been asking the police and MCD to arrange for more cranes but they say there is absolutely no space for them to maneuver. Some civil defense officials are here but they don't seem to be able to come up with a plan to clear this mess. Our conscience has brought us here to help those trapped inside," said volunteer Satyendra Bhan, who was seen asking local residents to gather hammers to facilitate rescue work.
AK Sharma, the Delhi Fire Service chief, too acknowledged their role along with the west district police. "We have sent around 40 personnel to the rescue site but it was the locals who took the lead in rescue operations. With their support we have saved at least two lives," said Sharma.
Anuj Sharma was at home enjoying his Saturday break when he felt the ground beneath his feet shake. His first thought was that an earthquake had struck the Capital. Only when clouds of dust started to enter his home did he realize that the reality was something entirely different. "When I peeped out I saw that the three-storey building now lay in a heap in front of me," said Sharma. Like others in the neigbourhood, Sharma's first impulse was to rush to help.
Proud that people in his neighbourhood had united in this moment of crisis, Kapil Sharma, 32, said, "As soon as the building collapsed, residents of nearby homes rushed to help. The police was informed immediately but the rescue work was carried out by locals."
By the time TOI reached the locality, a crowd of thousands was moving towards the disaster site, choking the main road outside the Uttam Nagar police station ensuring that even ambulances found it difficult to make their way through.
Incidentally, administrators claimed the presence such large crowds was hampering the rescue process. "Hundreds of people, claiming to be rescue workers, entered the debris site. They just stood around on the rubble making it very difficult for rescue workers to do their job. The local police stayed away from the site, preferring to remain mute spectators. How can you expect to find survivors after this?'' asked Nitin Bhalla , another local volunteer.