New Delhi: The toll in the East Delhi building collapse mounted to 66 this morning even as scores of rescue workers were working to pull out people trapped inside the debris of the structure.
The 15-year-old four-storey building, which housed 200 people, caved in at around 8.15 pm on Monday in the congested Lalita Park area of Laxmi Nagar.
Till now 39 bodies have been taken to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, 16 to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital, five to Hedgewar Hospital and one to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. Around 80 people have been injured in the incident, officials said.
“Till now 66 people have been killed in the incident,” Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia said.
According to reports, the foundation of the building had weakened due to water having seeped in during the monsoon when the Yamuna had breached its banks.
The injured were taken to three government hospitals where the death toll kept rising through the night. At the LNJP hospital where the maximum number of people were brought in dead, there was a sense of complete disbelief at what had happened. Through the night, ambulances carting the dead and the injured came in and doctors said that even though they were trying their best, the death toll was likely to go up.
At Lalita Nagar, the anger spilled over on the streets. Even as the owner of this building went missing, residents said it was a tragedy waiting to happen.
People said that the building collapsed when an attempt was being made to build extra floors. What’s even more frightening is that there are several other illegal constructions like this in the area that could follow this disaster.
Meanwhile, a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the incident, Delhi government officials said.
“The scale of the tragedy is unprecedented. I don’t think such a tragedy has taken place in Delhi in the recent past,” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said.
Dikshit said it seems to be a “case of negligence” as the accumulated water in the basement for more than two months since the monsoon was not removed.
She said it will have to be inquired if it was an unauthorised construction and that appropriate action will be taken if any wrongdoing is found.