May 27, 2024

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Billboard collapse in Mumbai: 14 dead and dozens injured

Billboard collapse in Mumbai: 14 dead and dozens injured

Comment on the photo, The huge advertisement fell over a petrol station and some houses in Ghatkopar, a suburb of Mumbai

  • author, Deepali Jagtap
  • Role, BBC Marathi, Mumbai

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

The billboard, which measures 70 meters by 50 metres, according to police, fell on homes and a gas station in the city on Monday.

Emergency services say a small number of people are still trapped underneath, and a rescue operation is underway.

The government of Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located, ordered an investigation into the incident.

Comment on the photo, Officials say some people may still be trapped under the debris

Footage broadcast by local news channels showed a huge billboard swaying in the wind before giving way and crashing into buildings near a busy road in the Ghatkopar suburb in the east of the city. Several vehicles were crushed in the accident.

In photos from the scene of the accident, emergency teams can be seen working amid the wreckage. Dramatic video footage shows rescue workers extracting a victim 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. He added: “There is a red car that was severely damaged, and we suspect that there are some people trapped inside it.”

Comment on the photo, Akshay Vasant Patil says he managed to escape from under the billboard shortly after it collapsed

He said: “I realized that the billboard was falling and tried to get out and run, but it got stuck between the cars.”

“Between eight and nine people, including me, managed to escape.”

But Patel saw many other people stuck in trucks and cars under the collapsed billboard.

Among the victims was Bharat (24 years old), who was on his way to work when it started raining.

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

Mrs Rathod, who was home at the time, learned of the tragedy through a phone call from her husband.

She said: “I immediately rushed to the scene, but my son was dead when I arrived.”

Comment on the photo, Neena Vinod Rathod says she rushed to the accident site after learning that her son was there

In a statement posted on X, previously Twitter, civic authorities in Mumbai said “fast winds” caused the collapse, and several agencies, including police, fire and national disaster response teams, were involved in the rescue operation.

Authorities also say the billboard was several times larger than the permitted size and that the agency that put it up did not have permission.

A notice has been sent to the company asking them to dismantle the structure and remove all similar hoardings from the city with immediate effect.

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

Local media reported that many flights were temporarily suspended or diverted at the city’s international airport.

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

Additional reporting by Tom MacArthur in London.