Delhi Fire Services received a call around 1.25pm on Monday alerting it to the collapse of the building. At least five labourers were feared trapped beneath the debris. Police too were informed.
“On reaching the spot, a construction worker told us that six people were trapped beneath the rubble,” revealed Manoj C, DCP (Southwest). He added, however, that one labourer had actually been outside the structure and escaped being trapped when the building crashed down. “He received some injuries and was admitted to hospital,” the DCP said.
The district police, fire services, National Disaster Relief Force and the power distribution company started a rescue operation and rescued the five trapped labourers. They were sent to a hospital, where two died and four are currently under treatment.
The two who died were identified as Naseem, 35, and Bilal, 40. Musahid, 19, Sarfaraz, 25, Firdaus and Aslam, 17, are undergoing treatment and police said Sarfaraz’s condition was serious.
Atul Garg, director, Delhi Fire Service, said six fire tenders had arrived at the accident site to help in the rescue. “The residential building collapsed during renovation work,” he confirmed. Garg said it was difficult to carry out the rescue of the trapped men because the roof hadn’t fully collapsed and even small movements were causing portions of it to hurtle down and posing a risk both to the trapped men and to their rescuers. “The firemen tried to keep the morale of those they spotted. They gave them water and made sure they weren’t in too much discomfort.”
Several labourers reached the collapse site looking for their kin, who were working at the site. Azaad, who was searching for his brother Naseem, said that he had received a phone call for help from the trapped labourer. “Naseem called me and asked me to check what had happened as he could not understand where he was stuck and what had fallen over the group,” said Azaad. “Since I was busy, I asked someone else to check. But when I learnt about the building collapse, I rushed here.” Naseem is survived by his wife, four daughters and a son who live in their village in Bihar. He had been working as a labourer in Delhi for two decades.
Bilal’s brother, Inteqaam, had also reached the accident site earlier since it was his usual routine to have lunch with his brother. However, since his brother was busy today, he had carried on himself. “Bilal had been working at this site for the last 20 days or so. He has been employed in Delhi for the last five years. His wife and five kids are at home in Bihar. We haven’t told his wife about what happened today, but informed our parents,” said Inteqaam.
Later in the day, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi, “This accident is very sad. I am receiving constant information about the relief and rescue being conducted by the district administration.”