At least 15 people, mostly labourers hailing from West Bengal and Bihar, were killed and three others injured when a boundary wall of a posh building collapsed here early on Saturday, officials said.
Taking a grim view of the tragedy, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered the Pune Collector to conduct a detailed probe into the incident in Kondwa as dramatic videos on social media showed cars lined up next to the structure nose-dive.
“Extremely saddened to know about loss of lives in the Pune wall collapse incident,” said Fadnavis, announcing a compensation of Rs 500,000 to the kin of each deceased and Rs 25,000 for each injured in the tragedy, the biggest in the current monsoon season.
Governor C.V. Rao also expressed grief over the incident and said “every life lost was precious” while wishing speedy recovery to the injured.
The Pune police have filed cases around a dozen persons including the top officials of Kanchan Builders and Alcon Stylus, their engineers and contractors for the tragedy, charging them with negligence and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The accused include Jagdishprasad Agrawal, Sachin Jagdishprasad Agrawal, Rajesh Jagdishprasad Agrawal, Vivek Sunil Agrawal, Vipul Sunil Agrawal, Pankaj Vora, Suresh Shah, Rashmikant Gandhi, officials said.
It was around 2.15 a.m. when the compound wall of Alcon Stylus residential building suddenly came crashing down trapping the victims still asleep in their huts, police and NDRF officials said.
Around half a dozen vehicles parked near the compound wall also were dragged down as a portion of the earth caved in and crashed onto the hutments below.
Teams of rescuers who rushed to the spot managed to rescue just three people alive, including two minors. Most of them were labourers, the officials said.
The dead included five children. Ongoing work to rescue some others feared trapped in the rubble was hampered by intermittent monsoon showers.
Pune Collector Naval Kishore Ram said that the wall crashed owing to the heavy rains experienced in the city since Friday.
“Negligence of the builders is coming to light. Deaths of 15 persons is not a small matter. They are mostly labourers from Bihar and West Bengal. The government will provide all help to them,” Ram told media persons.
As announced by Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) slapped a ‘Stop Work’ order to an adjoining building of the same company where construction activities are underway.
Pune Guardian Minister Chandrakant Patil who also rushed to the tragedy site this afternoon, warned that no guilty would be spared and directed the officials to submit a probe report within a week.
Opposition Congress state President Ashok Chavan demanded that the government should take stringent against all those found guilty for it and take measures to provide relief to the families of the victims and survivors.
The Pune Collectorate and PMC authorities said they will separately probe the tragedy even as the victims and locals blamed the builders and the civic body for lapses.
Some of the victims were identified Sunil Singh, Sonali Das, Bhima Das, Deepan Sharma, Alok Verma, Mohan Sharma, Sangeeta Devi, Neeta, Avdhesh Singh, Aman Sharma, Ravi Sharma, Ajit Sharma, Rahul Sharma, Laxmikant Sahani and Ovi Das. They were mostly labourers working on the building construction sites since the past few years.
Pune has witnessed several similar tragedies at construction sites, claiming several lives. In July 2016, a slab crashed from a 13-storied building killing nine labourers. Earlier in December 2012, 13 workers were killed when the dome of a building collapsed, and in September 2012, 11 workers were killed when an illegal building crashed. (Agency)