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Apr 06, 2013 at 03:39pm IST

Thane building collapse: NDRF says rescue operation over, 72 dead

Mumbai: The NDRF said that rescue operation in the tragic Thane building collapse is over and the death toll has gone up to 72 in one of Maharashtra's worst ever building tragedy. More than 60 people have been injured after a seven-storey building collapsed like a pack of cards in Mumbra area on Thursday evening. The builder, the contractor and the supervisor have been charged with culpable homicide. Municipal authorities said that adjacent buildings are now being demolished as well.

Thane municipal officials said that the building was illegally constructed on forest land and should have been demolished earlier. They added that complaints about the illegal building were made to the forest department but in vain.

ALSO SEE Is Municipality as much to blame as builders for Thane collapse?

The sub inspector of the local police station and Thane Deputy Municipal Commissioner were suspended on charges of collusion with the builders on Friday. Shockingly, Thane Municipal Commissioner has admitted on record that 90 per cent of the buildings in Mumbra area are illegal. Municipal Commissioner RA Rajeev said the building was built on forest land and two notices were sent to the building. "We had repeatedly asked the forest department to take action. We had asked MSEB to cut electricity to the building. We have issued total notices to about 250 illegal buildings in this belt. We try forcible removal. It is not easy. Also its a congested area our equipment is unusable here," said Rajeev.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had visited the collapse site on Friday. The state government has also announced Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 each to those seriously injured, the Chief Minister said.

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While children are looking for parents and the parents are looking for children, there are those like Sandhya who have not been told that their parents are no more. Sandhya's mother died on a bed close to hers and there is no news of any other relatives.

With entire families being wiped out, extended family members are rushing in to complete formalities and get news of their family and with most documents buried under the rubble, they're finding it difficult to prove identities to claim bodies.

ALSO SEE Thane: 4-year-old girl rescued, family yet to be traced

One of the survivors of the mishap Mohd Yamin, resident of fifth floor, said, "The surrounding buildings charge around Rs 1500. But here, the builder charged only Rs 500 and gave the place for rent to as many people as possible."

The incident took place at 6:30 pm on Thursday following which fire tenders and medical teams were rushed to the spot. Several people remain trapped under the debris and the rescue operations still continue.

ALSO SEE Thane building was constructed in just 2 months: Eyewitness

The injured have been admitted to various hospitals including Thane Civil, CSM Civic hospital at Kalwa, Kalsekar hospital in Kalwa, while those in critical condition were shifted to Sion and JJ Hospital.

Despite the blame game, the essential questions that surrounds this tragedy are:

ALSO SEE Thane building: Fire brigade ill-equipped to deal with such a tragedy?

1. How did this building get an electricity and water connection, enabling residents to live in it?

2. Why did the municipality not act against residents even after learning the building did not have an occupancy certificate?

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