Tribune News Service
Twelve more bodies were today retrieved from the debris of a restaurant on the Kumarhatti-Nahan highway that collapsed on Sunday, raising the death to 14. Among the victims are 13 Army personnel of 4 Assam Regiment, Dagshai, and the eatery owner’s wife.
Three bodies were extricated by 11pm last evening. Eleven more were retrieved by noon today after an exhaustive operation by the NDRF, CRPF and the police. Several voluntary organisations pitched in.
The deceased have been identified as eatery owner’s wife Archana, Subedar Major Pardeep Chand, Subedars Balvinder Singh, Ajit Kumar, Yogesh Kumar, Bishar Singh, Hem Kumang, Kumar Chorai, Surjit Sharma, Rajan Bahadur and Lalson Vaiphe and Naib Subedars Raj Kishore Singh and Vinod Kumar. Of the 42 persons trapped, nine were evacuated safely while 14 sustained injuries and three were referred to hospitals with grievous injuries. Two were discharged after treatment.
Solan Deputy Commissioner KC Chaman said SDM Rohit Rathore had been entrusted with an inquiry and would submit a report in 15 days, also mentioning remedial measures to avoid such mishaps in the future.
The SDM said initially slushy conditions had impeded rescue and evacuation operations and power supply had to be disconnected so that there was no short-circuit. Generators were pressed into service and power was restored this morning. With LPG cylinders leaking, gas cutters had to be used to break through the cemented slabs of the collapsed building.
Rescue teams proceeded with utmost caution to ensure no further harm was caused to those trapped. For the same reason, deployment of earth movers was initially put on hold, said ADM Vivek Chandel.
All those rescued within 60 minutes of the mishap survived. Thereafter, only bodies were retrieved. Army personnel who had collected in the rooms present in the basement of the building suffered casualties while those who were sitting on the floor facing the road were rescued. Lt Gen JS Nain, GoC 9 Corps, Yol, Palampur, coordinated the rescue operations and also visited the site.
The Dharampur police has filed a case under Sections 336 and 304-A of the IPC against Sehaj Tandoori Dhaba for death due to negligence. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur visited the accident site this morning and took stock. He also visited the injured at the MMU Medical College. The district administration has announced Rs 5,000-Rs 20,000 for the injured and Rs 4 lakh each for the kin of the deceased.
An injured soldier said there were 35 Army personnel inside, 30 of them JCOs, when the building collapsed.
Another injured person, Rakesh Kumar, recalled: “We thought it was a quake. Soon the ceiling collapsed. I was trapped for about 15 minutes after which rescuers pulled me out.”
Of the 42 persons trapped, nine were evacuated safely, while 14 suffered injuries and three were referred to hospitals. Two were discharged after treatment.
The deceased have been identified as eatery owner’s wife Archana, Subedar Major Pardeep Chand, Subedars Balvinder Singh, Ajit Kumar, Yogesh Kumar, Bishar Singh, Hem Kumang, Kumar Chorai, Surjit Sharma, Rajan Bahadur and Lalson Vaiphe and Naib Subedars Raj Kishore Singh and Vinod Kumar.
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