COIMBATORE: As many as four people have been killed in the collapse of a 40-year-old building in KC Thottam near Chetti Street in Coimbatore on Sunday night. Coimbatore Corporation officials have said the building was unauthorised and the civic body would be launching an inquiry into the matter.
On Monday evening, the body of 65-year-old Kasturiammal was recovered from beneath the debris after 20 hours of search operations by fire and rescue personnel. Hours later, her 42-year-old son Manikandan, who had been rescued and was being treated at Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital, succumbed to his injuries. The others killed in the collapse are Kasturiammal’s 72-year-old husband K Gopalsamy and K Swetha alias Shalini (25), daughter-in-law of the building’s owner.
Five others, rescued in the overnight operations, are being treated for injuries.
The roof of the three-story building collapsed and slid onto a tile-roof house at around 8.40pm on Sunday. Nine people from the two houses were trapped beneath the debris. The nine were identified as G Vanaja, the owner of the building who lived on the first and second floor with son Kannan, his wife Swetha and their son Dhanveer (five). While Kannan was not in the house when the mishap occurred, Vanaja's daughter Kavitha (45) and husband of her other daughter, Manojkumar (47), were present. Vanaja’s ground floor tenant Sarojini (70) was also in the building at the time. Gopalsamy and Kasturiammal resided in the tile-roof house adjacent to the building with Manikandan.
While Kavitha, Sarojini and Vanaja were rescued soon after the mishap occurred, rescue personnel struggled to find the others. Dhanveer was rescued two hours after the mishap with great difficulty. His mother was found dead next to him. Rescue team members believed she had saved her son from the falling roof. Manojkumar and Manikandan were found alive in the early hours of Monday while Gopalsamy was found dead.
Rescue teams worked for close to 20 hours to find Kasturiammal who was believed to be trapped alive beneath the debris. More than 200 fire and rescue service personnel and police personnel were pressed into service. A hi-tech camera was deployed to find her, but all efforts went vain and she was found dead at around 4.30 pm on Monday. Hours later, her son Manikandan succumbed to his injuries at CMCH.
On hearing of the mishap, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy offered his condolences and announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh for each of the deceased persons.
Police have asked residents of buildings adjacent to Vanaja’s house to vacate their residences, as the walls were damaged in the mishap. Meanwhile, Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation officials claimed that the building was an unauthorised structure and an investigation would be conducted. Further, Coimbatore district collector K Rajamani has instructed owners of old buildings, in dilapidated condition, to demolish them immediately or face legal action.
Coimbatore MP PR Natarajan, in a statement, posited that the lake rejuvenation work on the Selva Sindhamani Lake, adjacent to the building, could have caused the mishap. He alleged that if a scheme road had been laid between the lake and residential area, as per the resolution passed by the Corporation in 2010, the public would have been safe.