Billboard collapses in Mumbai: 14 dead and dozens injured

image caption, A large advertisement fell over a petrol station and some houses in Ghatkopar, a suburb of Mumbai

  • author, Diwali Jagtab
  • stock, BBC Marathi, Mumbai

At least 14 people have been killed and dozens injured after a giant billboard collapsed during a sudden storm in the Indian city of Mumbai.

According to police, the 70m by 50m billboard fell on houses and a petrol station in the city on Monday.

Emergency services say several others are still trapped and rescue operations are underway.

The Maharashtra state government, located in Mumbai, has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

image caption, Officials said that 10 more people may be trapped in the debris

Footage on local news channels showed the huge billboard swaying in the wind and crashing into buildings near a busy road in Ghatkopar, the city’s eastern suburbs. Several vehicles were crushed in the accident.

Photos from the scene show emergency crews working through the rubble. Dramatic video footage shows rescue workers pulling the victim out from under the fallen billboard and using power tools to cut through the metal.

“We have rescued around 80 people safely,” an official told news agency ANI. “One of the red cars was badly damaged and we suspect some people were trapped inside.”

image caption, Akshay Vasant Patil says he managed to escape from under the billboard as it collapsed

Akshay Vasant Patil, 20, a courier service worker, was waiting at a petrol station with his car when the storm hit.

“I realized the billboard was falling and tried to run outside but got stuck between the cars,” he said.

“Eight to nine people, including me, managed to escape.”

But Mr Patil found many people trapped in trucks and cars under the collapsed billboard.

Among the victims was Bharat (24), who was on his way to work when the rains started.

“He stopped to take cover under a nearby bridge. But the billboard fell and crushed him,” said his mother Naina Vinod Rathod.

Rathod, who was at home at that time, came to know about the tragedy on her husband’s call.

“I immediately rushed to the spot, but my son was dead by the time I arrived,” he said.

image caption, Naina Vinod Rathod said that she rushed to the accident site when she came to know that her son was there

X, in a statement posted on Twitter earlier, Mumbai’s civic authorities said “high winds” caused the collapse and multiple agencies, including the police, fire and National Disaster Response Teams, were involved in the rescue operation.

Also, officials say that the hoarding was many times higher than the permissible size and the agency that put it up did not have permission.

The company was issued a notice and asked to remove the building and remove all similar hoardings from the city immediately.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the state government will provide financial assistance to 500,000 rupees ($5,987; £4,767) to the families of those killed and injured in the incident.

Monday’s dust storm brought parts of the city to a standstill, uprooted trees, caused travel chaos and power outages.

Several flights at the city’s international airport were temporarily grounded or diverted, local media reported.

Mumbai is one of the many cities in India prone to severe flooding and rain-related incidents during the monsoon season – which usually falls between June and September.

Additional reporting by Tom McArthur in London.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *