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2 die as Grain Market roof caves in
Army helps in rescue and relief
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

One of the victims of the roof collapse lies half buried.
One of the victims of the roof collapse lies half buried. Tribune photo by Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, June 10
Two persons were killed and two others seriously injured when a concrete roof collapsed in the Sector 26 Grain Market, here, this evening. The tragedy struck when a dilapidated portion of the roof over the vegetable and fruit auction platform gave way as the auctioning of fruits and vegetables was in progress.

The UT home secretary-cum-secretary agriculture, Krishna Mohan, confirmed that two persons had died, and another 13 were injured, two of whom were serious. Eight of the injured were discharged after administering first-aid.

The massive rescue operation wrapped up after five hours after the rescue team led by the army informed that all those trapped under the debris had been rescued. The entire area was cordoned off with a disaster management team on standby. The area was floodlit.

Over 300 persons were taking part in the vegetable auction when the roof collapsed. A large number of people managed to escape with minor injuries. The roof, which was built by the Chandigarh Administration, was said to be more than 30 years old.

A massive operation was launched with the UT Administration pressing at least 15 cranes for the rescue. But the rescue operation could not make much headway as the cranes could not lift the debris.

The failure of the rescue operation sparked off protests by irate shopkeepers who shouted slogans against the administration. Later, JCB machine were pressed into service.

The disaster management of the administration went for a toss with people remaining trapped under the debris over two-a-and-half hours.

Army, Air Force and para-military personnel were pressed into service around 6.30 pm. Rescue operations were also hampered with a large number of onlookers thronging around the area.

A victim trapped for over three hours could be seen asking for water before he was rescued.

Union tourism minister Ambika Soni and minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal visited the site.

Ashok Kumar, a cashier in shop number 7 was discharged from PGI after first-aid, told mediapersons that the auction was on in full swing when the incident happened. At about 4.50 pm, they heard a noise and found bricks falling near shop no 1. Before they could react, the roof collapsed on them. Chaos prevailed as people scurried for safety. Few, who managed to escape, told TNS that many labourers were sleeping when the incident happened and might not even have had time to react to the situation.

Naresh Kumar, owner of New Zamidara vegetables in shed number 7, was rescued by his family. On hearing the news on TV, they rushed to the spot and contacted him on the phone. It was with the aid of his directions that he was rescued. His legs appeared to be crushed. A team of doctors from Sector 16 Government Multi-Speciality Hospital was present on the spot. Oxygen was released into the debris to facilitate breathing under the debris. Senior officers of the police and administration supervised the rescue operation.

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