Fourteen people were killed when an under-construction five-storey residential building caved in Cancona town yesterday.
Personnel of Goa fire and emergency services and Army carried out rescue operations overnight to look for more survivors but as 17 hours have passed since the mishap and due to huge pile of debris, the chances of finding anybody alive is getting slimmer with the passage of time.
Fire personnel fear that over 20 people could still be lying under the rubble and chances of anyone of them coming out alive was remote.
According to medical officials present at the site, out of 25 people — mostly labourers — pulled out so far 14 are declared dead.
“The death toll is going to rise further as rescue operation proceeds,” a fire services official present at the site said, adding the possibility of finding more survivors is remote.
“Earlier there were some sounds coming from the debris which helped rescuers to locate them and rescue two persons who were asking for help,” said an eyewitness, adding no more voices are heard now from inside.
While three blocks of the project—entirely six buildings and 150 flats—are ready and even have flats occupied, the remaining portion is under construction. The structure that collapsed had 24 flats and was one of the three incomplete buildings. Among those who own apartments in the project are actor Asha Parekh, sports minister Ramesh Tawadkar and some babus.
Venancio Furtado, acting South Goa collector told the media that the under-construction building was being built by Ruby Constructions of Bharat Developers, a Mumbai-based company. South Goa SP Shekar Prabhudesai said a case under IPC Sections 304 and 304A has been registered against builders Jugdeep Kumar Sehgal and Pradeep Singh, both partners, director Vishwas Desai, and others, for negligence.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who reached the spot around 4.30pm, said prima facie the collapse was due to poor quality of construction. “We checked the nearby blocks of the project, and even they had developed cracks. The district administration will look into all aspects of the case and submit a report to the government.” He added that action will also be taken against officials of the town and country planning department if they are found guilty in the inquiry report. The RCC consultants of the project too will be booked.
Fire services officials said the rescue work will resume later in the day after the debris is cleared.
The marshy land around the site of collapse is also proving to be a hindrance for rescuers as one of the earth-movers at the site got stuck in mud.
A senior police official said keeping crowd of onlookers at bay is posing a challenge for them.
Goa police has launched a search for the builder and contractor who have gone missing following the building collapse in Cancona which left 14 people dead.
Cancona Police had yesterday registered an FIR against builder Vishwas Desai and contractor Jaideep Saigal for allegedly endangering human life, causing death and negligence following the collapse.
“Both the builder and contractor have been missing while attempts are on to trace them,” police inspector Harish Madkaikar told GoaChronicle.com
Deputy inspector general of police OP Mishra said that police will investigate with all seriousness into the offence registered against the builder-contractor duo.
But, the priority right now is to rescue people from the debris, he said.