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May 15, 2024

Tragic Billboard Collapse in Mumbai: Hopes of Finding Survivors Dim, Says NDRF

In a devastating incident that has rocked Mumbai, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has stated that the likelihood of finding survivors in the aftermath of the hoarding collapse in Ghatkopar remains very slim. The tragic event unfolded on Monday evening when a massive billboard, measuring 120×120 feet, collapsed onto a petrol pump and a parking lot in the Chheda Nagar area, attributed to severe gusty winds and unexpected heavy rains.

Two dedicated teams from the NDRF, along with the Mumbai Fire Brigade and local police, have been tirelessly engaged in rescue operations since the collapse occurred. Despite their relentless efforts over the past two days, the grim reality is setting in that the number of casualties might increase as the chances of discovering more survivors dwindle.

As of now, rescue teams have managed to extricate 89 individuals from beneath the debris. Out of these, 14 have been pronounced dead, while 75 others have sustained injuries of varying severity. In addition to those already recovered, officials have identified two more bodies trapped within the wreckage, although these have yet to be retrieved due to the complex and hazardous conditions at the site.

The rescue operation has been a challenging one, with heavy machinery deployed to clear and lift the collapsed steel structure and girder of the billboard. An NDRF official remarked, “The probability of more casualties cannot be ruled out as the chances of finding people alive are slim.” The precarious situation is further complicated by the proximity of the collapsed hoarding to the petrol pump, which has restricted the use of cutting and drilling equipment.

Adding to the danger, fuel leakage from vehicles crushed under the hoarding has posed a significant fire hazard. Indeed, on Wednesday morning, a small fire did break out at the incident site. However, it was promptly extinguished by the fire tenders stationed there, preventing what could have been a more catastrophic situation.

The aftermath of the hoarding collapse has left the community in shock and mourning, with families of the victims and injured facing an uncertain future. As the rescue operations continue, authorities are also focusing on investigating the structural integrity and safety measures associated with such large billboards, especially given the unpredictable weather patterns that Mumbai has been experiencing.

This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities in urban infrastructure and the urgent need for stringent safety protocols. The NDRF and other rescue teams remain committed to their efforts, despite the increasingly slim chances of finding additional survivors. The city’s response to this disaster, while heroic, highlights the necessity for better preparedness and preventive measures to safeguard against such unforeseen calamities in the future.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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