Building collapse kills two, affects others already desperate because of lockdown
by Nirmala Carvalho

A five-storey building with 40 flats and more than 200 residents collapsed around 7 pm. Similar incidents are frequent during the rainy season. Many had invested their life savings and now have lost everything, says local priest. For them, this is a second blow after losing job and wages as a result of COVID-19.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A five-storey building collapsed around 7 pm last night in a residential area in Mahad, a town in Raigad district, south of Mumbai, killing two and injuring scores. Rescue operations are still ongoing as many people are still under the rubble.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Pascal Sinor, a priest at the Mary of Nazareth Church in Alibagh, Raigad, said that "This is another tragedy that affects people already marked by unemployment and wage cuts, triggered by the lockdown" imposed by the authorities to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Mumbai, India’s economic and commercial heart, is also the capital of the central-western state of Maharashtra. It is also no stranger to tragedies of this kind. Building collapses and implosions are not rare events in the country during the rainy seasons when the monsoons rage. Landslides are common occurrences as well.

"Most of the people who lived in the Tariq Gardens" had invested " their life savings in the purchase of a house or a flat,” said Fr Pascal. With the building collapse, “their dream of a better life for themselves and their families has gone.”

The five-storey Tariq Gardens building (ground floor, plus four) housed up to 40 families. According to witnesses, the top three floors began to cave in at around 6.50 pm, with eventually the whole structure giving way.

Some residents managed to escape, but many others were trapped. So far rescuers have pulled 17 people, but many are missing.

Following the tragedy, Fr Pascal was able to speak with one of the survivors, Shahnawaz Lore, a teacher by profession (pictured with the priest). "He had just moved into the building only a year ago with his wife and their three children," said the priest.

His youngest daughter “heard some noises from behind a pillar. At first, they thought of an earthquake, but they soon realised that only their building was shaking. They immediately rushed down.” They reckon that “25 or 30 people are still under the debris.”

The ten-year-old building had about 40 flats, possibly accommodating up to 200-220 people. “So far the police have confirmed two deaths,” the clergyman explained.

This is “very sad news for all of us,” he added. “It was unexpected.” Some people are “totally shattered. They lost everything. We are praying for those who are still under the debris,” hoping “that they will survive.”