Monica, who lives next to the building under construction which caved in on Monday, was busy with her daily chores while her domestic helper cleaned a room. “My maid told me to close the door because construction dust was coming into the house. Then suddenly we heard an explosion,” the housewife said. “I ran to the balcony and for a few seconds I saw nothing because of the rising dust. Then I heard screams about a building collapsing.
The event is a tragedy and a telling commentary on how rules are routinely flouted in the city. Those who carried out the illegal renovation despite the notice must be brought to justice. Appropriate compensation must be given to the families of those who lost their lives or were injured through no fault of their own.
A tree near his house served as a barrier and saved his home from flying debris from the collapsed building. Nearby, Suman was also working in his house when the building collapsed. “I could tell something really heavy had hit the ground. After that, my house started shaking,” Suman said. “I was really scared.”
The area where the incident occurred is close to Delhi University’s South Campus. Most of the houses here have three or more stories, many of them being paying guesthouses for students. “The area is divided into lanes and on each lane there are 17-18 houses. Most boarding students are paying guests due to the proximity to colleges,” said local resident Pankaj Goel. “Apart from that, several hotels and restaurants are also operating in the area.”
DU students Prakash Shekhar Verma and Yash Aggarwal were studying in their PG room when they felt the earth shake. They walked out thinking about what had happened. “I saw a worker come out of the dust cloud with his face all bloody. He must have alerted people to others who were trapped in the collapse,” Verma said. Aggarwal added, “My family in Kanpur heard the news and they were very tense. They told me to ask my landlord if our building was safe or not.
Jagdish Makad took five minutes to reach the crash site. Amid the dust and chaos, he heard cries for help from people trapped in the rubble of the collapsed structure. “Without wasting time, several local people got to work trying to get them out. The police have also been notified,” the 53-year-old said.
A shaken resident later told a news television reporter about the unreal meaning of the incident. “We’ve seen this in movies and shows, but seeing it in reality was horrible,” she said.