CHENNAI: A day after an under-construction, multi-storeyed apartment block came down crashing trapping tens of workers under the debris, rescue efforts by personnel from various departments were underway in full swing on Sunday at the disaster spot at Mouliwakkam near Porur here.
At the time of going to press, 13 people were confirmed dead, including some workers who were yet to be identified, in the incident. Six persons associated with realty firm Prime Sristi, the developers, have been arrested and remanded in custody. Those arrested included the company MD, architect and four others. As many as 34 people have been pulled out from under the debris, with 20 undergoing treatment at SRU and another person at the GH. The victims’ bodies have been kept in the SRU and the Royapettah GGH.
The National Disaster Response Force, fire and rescue services and police personnel have been working since Saturday, cutting through mammoth concrete blocks and iron rods, albeit cautiously so as to prevent the debris from caving in which would crush those still trapped. A brief spell of rain and hailstone did raise fears for a while, but the skies cleared soon, enabling the rescue personnel to proceed with their efforts. Sniffer dogs were brought in to locate those trapped, and the rescue teams were using sophisticated cameras also.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, accompanied by senior officials, inspected the accident site in the evening to oversee the rescue and relief efforts. Assuring action against all those responsible for the incident, the CM said a thorough inquiry will be ordered to find out if there were any plan violations or structural defects. Soil tests would also be conducted.
“It appears that the builders have not adhered to the approved plans. There seems to have been serious structural defects. My government will conduct an inquiry. We will have to test samples of the construction and conduct soil tests to see if the site could have supported the weight of the structure,” she told the media. Later, the CM visited the SRU hospital where a majority of those injured have been admitted and handed over cheques for `50,000 that was announced as immediate solatium. The families of the deceased will be given `2 lakh.