Skip to main content

Mumbai mayor: Decorator responsible for building collapse, killing 61

By Lonzo Cook, Holly Yan and Sumnima Udas, CNN
September 30, 2013 -- Updated 0828 GMT (1628 HKT)
A rescue worker rests at the site of a collapsed building in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, September 28. The five-story building collapsed Friday, September 27, killing 66. Authorities believe a central wall and support beams were removed without permission, causing the collapse. A rescue worker rests at the site of a collapsed building in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, September 28. The five-story building collapsed Friday, September 27, killing 66. Authorities believe a central wall and support beams were removed without permission, causing the collapse.
HIDE CAPTION
Mumbai building collapses
Mumbai building collapses
Mumbai building collapses
Mumbai building collapses
Mumbai building collapses
Mumbai building collapses
Mumbai building collapses
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Seven local officials have been suspended following the collapse
  • Mayor: A decorator illegally removed a wall and beams in the building
  • The decorator, who owned a business on the ground floor, has been arrested
  • 61 people were killed; 33 people have been pulled out alive from the wreckage

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Authorities say they now know what may have caused a five-story building in Mumbai to collapse last week: a decorator who removed a central wall and supporting beams without permission.

By Sunday, the death toll from Friday's collapse stood at 61. Fearing they may have pulled out the last of the survivors, officials ended their rescue operation.

Ashok Kumar Mehta, owner of Mamamiya Decorators, was charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder -- a charge equal to unlawful negligent killing, polIce said.

Mehta's business was on the ground floor of the crumbled building.

Five-story building collapses in Mumbai

Mumbai Mayor Sunil Prabhu said Mehta removed a central wall and supporting beams in the residential building, which is owned by Mumbai's city council. The building houses clerical employees of the municipal council and their families.

The council conducted a structural survey last November and determined the building was in bad condition and in urgent need of repair, the mayor said.

The city government approved funds for the repairs in April, but the money had not been spent.

Residents of the building were asked twice -- in November and April -- to vacate, Prabhu said.

The municipal council said Monday it has suspended seven officials over concerns they failed to act against the alterations to the building. An inquiry into the case will also investigate 11 other municipal officials, said Vijay Khabale Patil, a spokesman for the council.

The building in India's financial hub gave way around 6 a.m. Friday.

Thirty-three people were pulled out alive, said Sachidanand Gawde of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

Not the first time

Several other buildings in the Mumbai area have crumbled this year, one of them with disastrous consequences.

In April, scores of people were killed in the collapse of an illegal multistory building in Thane, a city in the Mumbai region.

Deadly collapses have occurred in the city in past years as well.

Housing rights groups say many old buildings in the city are rundown and neglected, while newer ones are often built using substandard materials and have structural problems.

People live in them because they don't have a choice. In Mumbai, demand for housing far exceeds supply. About 65% of the population is estimated to live in slums, the groups say.

CNN's Lonzo Cook and Sumnima Udas reported from New Delhi; Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Dharmesh Thakkar in Mumbai and journalist Neha Sharma in New Delhi also contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Industrial incidents
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Stories continued to emerge as firefighters ferreted through the piles of bricks and wreckage on the East Harlem block where a powerful explosion and fire leveled two buildings.
March 17, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Those two New York buildings were served by a very old gas main -- 127 years old to be exact. It's the latest incident in what experts warn is a dangerous trend plaguing the nation's oldest cities.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 2356 GMT (0756 HKT)
Some thought it was a bomb. Others thought it was the commuter train that runs behind their buildings jumping the tracks.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 2348 GMT (0748 HKT)
Metro-North Railroad, the second largest commuter rail line in the country, has a "deficient safety culture" and overemphasizes on-time performance.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1132 GMT (1932 HKT)
A roof collapsed at a resort retreat for college freshmen in South Korea, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 0445 GMT (1245 HKT)
An old auditorium collapsed at a village wedding in eastern China, killing at least nine people and injuring some 90 others.
January 5, 2014 -- Updated 1814 GMT (0214 HKT)
At least 14 people were killed when a building under construction at India's seaside tourist resort of Goa caved in.
December 30, 2013 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Part of a picturesque toll highway that tourists use to travel between the Mexican towns of Ensenada and Tijuana collapsed.
December 8, 2013 -- Updated 1916 GMT (0316 HKT)
Given the New York train derailment, are we approaching a time when machines should be powering our methods of travel forward?
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
At least 27 people were killed when a cargo train slammed into two cars south of Cairo.
November 23, 2013 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT)
Latvia's president has described the deadly collapse of a supermarket roof in Riga as "basically mass murder" of defenseless citizens.
November 20, 2013 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
South Africa's Department of Labour is visiting the site of aroof collapse near the eastern city of Durban, in which at least one person died and 30 people were injured.
September 30, 2013 -- Updated 0828 GMT (1628 HKT)
Authorities say they now know what may have caused a five-story building in Mumbai to collapse: a decorator who removed a central wall and supporting beams without permission.
July 30, 2013 -- Updated 2103 GMT (0503 HKT)
The driver of a train that derailed in northwestern Spain, killing 79 people, was on the phone with railway staff when the train crashed.
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
See images of industrial incidents spanning modern history
May 15, 2013 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
A city is in despair after many are killed in a garment factory collapse
ADVERTISEMENT