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Roof collapse: Another body retrieved, rescuers try to stabilise building

Two days after the ceilings of multiple flats in Chintels Paradiso condominium in Sector 109 caved in, killing two residents, authorities retrieved the body of a woman trapped under the debris late Saturday night. They said the operation was risky because some chunks of rubble and plaster had started falling from the upper floors and the entire load of the structure was now on the basement and the first floor. They added they were working to stabilise the structure, even as they freed the trapped body.

So far, the team has managed to rescue two people and retrieve two bodies.

“ We have managed to retrieve the body of the woman after a very challenging operation,” Kuleesh Anand, deputy commandant of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), who led the effort, confirmed.

On Saturday, two teams of NDRF from Ghaziabad along with technical experts and junior engineers reached the site and worked with the police, and dog squads, officials said, adding that heavy-duty machines and gas cutters were engaged in removing debris and walls at the site.

Anand said this was a very difficult operation since rescue teams were also at risk–one wrong move could have prove fatal.

Authorities said a team of junior engineers had to clear a passage before a team could remove the debris, and that there was barely 1.5 feet of space to do so safely. They added they had brought in a porcelain machine to help retrieve the trapped body, and had barricaded as much of the area as they could with sandbags to prevent falling debris from further damaging the body.

“The debris from the sixth floor has fallen on the first floor and the entire load is on one floor right now. We are stabilising the basement and first floor to ensure the structure takes the load,” Anand said.

Authorities said the district administration borrowed railway cribs from railway authorities and were using them to reinforce the remaining structure. Ankita Chaudhary, sub divisional magistrate of North, said that the NDRF team came up with the idea to stabilise the basement and first floor. The cribs, typically used to support heavy objects in construction, can support a higher load of debris, said officials, and sped up the rescue efforts. Officials said they also used lenters (temporary support beams) and other construction material to prevent further damage to the building during the rescue operation. Rescue teams also cut the grilles on the ground floor to make headway.

Officials said the district administration helped NDRF arrange construction material and called a few private contractors to the spot to help out.

Adding to the authorities’ worries is the lack of knowledge of the exact number of people trapped under the debris.

“We have not been informed about the exact number of trapped people by the authorities, who earlier claimed there could be 6-7 people. Two bodies have been retrieved and two people have already been evacuated,” said Anand, adding that there was no clarity on which floors were occupied.

KK Rao, commissioner of police, said that if they had an idea of how many people were living in the building, the rescue operation could have been carried out faster, adding teams led by senior police officers are also deployed at the spot to monitor the rescue operation and if required, evacuate residents from other towers.

Meanwhile, police traced the private contractor and labourers involved in the repair work of the sixth and seventh floor of the building and will record their statements.

“All teams at the site are preparing a detailed report, following which we will get the exact cause of the collapse. Once we have details, we will take strict action against those guilty. The residents are not responsible as the repair and renovation work was carried by the developer and his contractor,” Rao said.

The Gurugram police on Friday registered a case against the developer of the Chintels Paradiso condominium and the deputy commissioner ordered a separate inquiry into the building collapse.


    Leena Dhankhar has worked with Hindustan Times for five years. She has covered crime, traffic and excise. She now reports on civic issues and grievances of residents.
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