Police said the old building in a JJ Cluster in north Delhi’s Sawan Park area collapsed around 9.30 a.m., following which area residents informed police that some tenants living in the structure were trapped under the rubble.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force, police and Delhi Fire Services along with area residents undertook rescue work for over five hours and took the help of two cranes to pull out the trapped people.
“The dead children were Sumnesh, aged two, and his elder brother Rajnesh. Two other dead siblings were Ashi, aged three, and her brother Saurya, aged two, who stayed on the second floor. Two deceased women were Munni Devi, 40, and Seema, 25.
“The building was built about two decades ago was in bad condition,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Aslam Khan said.
According to Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital, the six injured admitted there were Kamla Shankar, 18, Manju, 22, Laxman, 26, Vijay, 30, Nisha, 35, and Raj Bahadur, 35. The condition of three of them is said to be critical.
Delhi Police said that building owner Dharmender and his partner Sachin have been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
“They absconded along with their family members after the collapse. A manhunt is on to nab them,” the DCP said.
The officer said that in August 2017 area resident Sanjeev Gupta had lodged a complaint on the online portal of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) about the building posing a danger to the public. “The team of area MCD officers had inspected the house just 20 days back,” the officer claimed.
According to the official, about 23 tenants from four families stayed on different floors of the building, constructed on a 25 square yard plot.
“They had also raised concerns over weak pillars and damaged portions of the structures before Dharmender, who assured of maintenance work soon. He also assured them of shifting them to his other property,” the official said.
“Luckily, 11 persons living in the building had left for their jobs/work half an hour before the structure collapsed. A majority of people who stayed there worked as labourers and carpenters. They wanted to leave after the NDMC officers visited it,” the official added.
The area residents accused the NDMC of negligence and said its officer visited the building but did not seal it because of corruption.
“We work as labourers. When we left for work in the morning, we saw our sons Sumnesh and Rajnesh studying. We did not know that it was the last time we were seeing them alive,” their sobbing parents Vimlesh and Bimla told IANS.
Adjoining buildings too suffered cracks due to the collapse of the building. Authorities ordered the evacuation of an adjoining four-storey building as a precautionary measure.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, BJP chief Manoj Tiwari and the NDMC Mayor visited the spot.
Tiwari slammed the Kejriwal government and the previous Congress regimes for not taking steps to prevent such accidents.