Though the blocks that fell on Wednesday were relatively new, it is learnt that its residents have been complaining about its poor construction and had made several representations to Vuda in this regard.
According to eyewitnesses, block No. 11 collapsed first. “We heard a huge noise around 4am after block 11 collapsed. When we rushed to the spot, we realised that several residents were still inside. After 15 minutes, the adjoining block 10 collapsed in front of our eyes.
People were crying for help and running for their lives,” said Manoj Parekh, a resident of block 21. Since many of the residents had already realised that these blocks could collapse anytime, they stood vigil throughout the night and came out before the buildings collapsed.
Investigation revealed that each block had 14 apartments.
All those killed belonged to seven families of block 11. After learning about the collapse, all families of the adjoining block 10 made a safe exit before it too collapsed 15 minutes later.
Hearing about the collapse, around 200 firemen and officials of the Vadodara Fire and Emergency Services arrived along with ambulance service. They were also joined by 115 jawans of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), 200 army jawans, 100 Civil Defence jawans and many locals.
“We reached the spot around 5:50 am and started the rescue operation, which was completed around 6 pm. We have pulled out eight people from the debris. Of them, two were alive while six were already dead,” said AS Chauhan, deputy commandant of NDRF.
To intensify the rescue operation, it is learned that the fire services called in 3 JCB machines to remove the debris as quickly as possible. Before NDRF stepped in, they pulled out one person alive and sent him to hospital. However, the death count finally reached 11 after the daylong rescue operation.
As the news spread, local MLA Saurabh Patel, along with revenue minister Nitin Patel and some government officials, arrived and announced compensation for the victims.
Sensing the mood, police stepped in to control the angry residents, who blamed Vuda for the poor quality of construction. “Though the colony is hardly 11 years old, it looks as if it is over 30 years old,” said an angry resident.
On Thursday, Manjalpur police lodged a case against all the responsible persons, including the contractor, builder, government servants or any one found guilty for causing death by negligence.
Manjalpur police sub-inspector BB Parmar became the complainant in the case, where sections 304, 308 and 114 IPC were imposed on all those responsible for the collapse.
“We have lodged the complaint on behalf of the government. We will investigate the case and book all those found guilty,” assured Satish Sharma, Vadodara commissioner of police.