At least 14 dead after massive billboard collapses during India rainstorm

Race against time to rescue people trapped inside wreckage of massive billboard in Mumbai

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 14 May 2024 08:28 BST
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Giant billboard collapses onto Mumbai street during powerful storm

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At least 14 people were killed and over 60 injured after an advertising billboard collapsed in India's financial capital of Mumbai during a rainstorm.

The billboard, measuring 70m by 50m, fell onto a petrol station as well as a number of houses in Mumbai‘s Ghatkopar area during heavy rains accompanied by strong winds on Monday evening.

Surveillance footage showed the metal structure tearing through the roofs of several cars, trapping dozens of people, before falling to the ground.

An excavator was digging through the wreckage on Tuesday as rescuers raced to find survivors. Fire services, police, disaster response officials and other authorities are involved in the rescue, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the civic body that runs Mumbai, said on X.

"A total of 88 people were rescued, of whom 14 were declared dead by doctors and 31 were discharged," National Disaster Relief Force assistant commandant Nikhil Mudholkar told ANI news agency.

Rescue officials said they were unable to remove the bodies after locating them due to the petrol pump. "The problem is that we are unable to use our gasoline-based cutting equipment because there is a petrol pump here," Mr Mudholkar added.

Maharashtra state chief minister Eknath Shinde visited the site of the collapse and said illegal and dangerous billboards across the city would be removed.

"It is a very unfortunate incident. The government will probe it, and the people responsible will face action. I have also asked the BMC commissioner to conduct a structural audit of all the hoardings in the city," he told reporters.

Rescuers look for victims under a billboard that collapsed following heavy rain and thundershowers in Mumbai
Rescuers look for victims under a billboard that collapsed following heavy rain and thundershowers in Mumbai (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The chief minister announced an ex-gratia of Rs500,000 (£4,768 )for the family of each person killed in the collapse. Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, said a “high-level inquiry has been ordered into the incident”.

Police in Mumbai registered a case against the owner of Ego Media, the company responsible for the billboard on a fief, which had been leased to the Police Welfare Corporation by the state government, NDTV reported.

Billboard collapse in Mumbai, India
Billboard collapse in Mumbai, India (REUTERS)

The local weather department had predicted that moderate spells of rain, accompanied by gusty winds reaching 40-50kph were likely to occur in parts of Mumbai district on Monday.

There were temporary flight disruptions at the Mumbai airport, with 15 flight diversions and operations suspended for a little over an hour.

Mumbai, like several Indian cities, is prone to severe flooding and rain-related accidents during the monsoon season, which usually lasts from June until September every year.

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