CHENNAI: Catastrophe struck the city on Saturday evening just as the skies open up when a 11-storeyed concrete structure at Mouliwakkam on the Porur-Kundrathur road split in the middle and collapsed into two heaps of rubble in the front and back side, killing at least five persons and injuring over 20 workers. A huge concrete block from the close-to-completion residential apartment tower also hurtled down on a two-storeyed house behind it. Three of its occupants were pulled out after hours of trepidation.
As the stretch of road from Porur junction to the spot bustled with police vehicles and fire engines, the other gargantuan structure of the two-block construction project, ‘Trust Heights’, stood as a mute witness to the search operations that began soon after the building crashed around 5 pm. “When I went to fetch my daughter from school as it suddenly rained, the building was standing tall. While returning
I heard a noise. By the time I reached home it had turned into rubble,” said a man in a house located next to the one crushed by the concrete block.
At the time of going to press, 20 people had been taken to the nearby Sri Ramachandra University, of which three were declared brought dead. The identity of four of them was established. One of them, Maruthupandi (25), from Madurai, died after admission in the hospital CCU. Two others were identified as Shankar (27) and Shanthakumari (25).
Five are being treated as outpatients as they are suffering from severe mental trauma. One patient admitted at the CCU has multiple injuries in the head and spine. Others have orthopaedic injuries.
For hours after the building collapse, traffic was blocked from Porur junction to the disaster site to enable free passage of ambulances. As rescue operations continued much after dusk, crowds at the premises waited anxiously as fire service men pulled out survivors. Outside, on the roads in the western part of the city, there was chaos as traffic was diverted. Apart from police, fire and ambulance staff, who were in full strength for a coordinated rescue mission, four teams of the elite National Disaster Management Team arrived to help the operations.
According to sources in Madurai, building promoter Prime Sristi, has two partners — Manoharan and Balaguru. Speaking to a Tamil news channel, project director Balaguru disowned responsibility for the accident.
“We can’t be held responsible. We have all the necessary clearances and can produce it. The right and left wings had some water seepage and workers were not supposed to be there. We believe that a strong bolt of lightning hit the structure and caused the collapse,” he said.