Billboard collapses in Mumbai: 14 dead and dozens injured

image caption, A large advertisement fell over a petrol station and some houses in Ghatkopar, a suburb of Mumbai

  • author, Diwali Jagtab
  • stock, BBC Marathi, Mumbai

At least 14 people have been killed and dozens injured after a giant billboard collapsed during a sudden storm in the Indian city of Mumbai.

A billboard measuring 70m by 50m fell on houses and a petrol station in the city on Monday, according to police.

Emergency services say more people are still trapped and rescue operations are underway.

The state government of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

image caption, Officials said that 10 more people may be trapped in the debris

Footage on local news channels showed the huge billboard swinging in the wind and crashing into buildings near a busy road in the city’s eastern suburbs, Ghatkopar. Several vehicles were crushed in the accident.

Photos from the scene show emergency crews working through the rubble. Dramatic video footage shows rescue workers pulling the victim out from under the fallen billboard and using power tools to cut through the metal.

“We have rescued around 80 people safely,” an official told news agency ANI. “One of the red cars was badly damaged and we suspect some people were trapped inside.”

image caption, Akshay Vasant Patil says he managed to escape from under the billboard as it collapsed

“I realized the billboard was falling and tried to run outside but got stuck between the cars,” he said.

“Eight to nine people, including me, managed to escape.”

But Mr Patil saw many people trapped in trucks and cars under the collapsed billboard.

Among the victims, Bharat (24) was on his way to work when the rains started.

“He stopped to take shelter under a nearby bridge. But the billboard fell and crushed him,” said his mother Naina Vinod Rathod.

Rathod, who was at home at that time, came to know about the tragedy on her husband’s call.

“I immediately rushed to the spot but my son was dead before I arrived,” he said.

image caption, Naina Vinod Rathod says she rushed to the accident spot when she realized her son was there

X, in a statement posted on Twitter earlier, Mumbai’s civic authorities said “high winds” caused the collapse and multiple agencies, including the police, fire and National Disaster Response Teams, were involved in the rescue operation.

Also, the officials say that the hoarding was many times higher than the permissible size and the agency that put it up did not have permission.

The company was issued a notice and asked to remove the building and remove all similar hoardings from the city immediately.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the state government will provide financial assistance to 500,000 rupees ($5,987; £4,767) to the families of those killed and injured in the incident.

Several flights at the city’s international airport were temporarily grounded or diverted, local media reported.

Mumbai is one of the many cities in India prone to severe flooding and rain-related incidents during the monsoon season – which usually falls between June and September.

Additional reporting by Tom McArthur in London.

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