14 killed and dozens injured after Mumbai billboard collapse

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A billboard has collapsed and killed 14 people and injured dozens in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, in thunderstorms and heavy rain, the Press Trust of India reported on Monday.

MUMBAI, India, May 14: A sudden storm in Mumbai resulted in a catastrophic event as a massive billboard collapsed, claiming the lives of at least 14 individuals and leaving numerous others injured.

The billboard, measuring a staggering 70 meters by 50 meters, plummeted onto houses and a petrol station in the city on Monday, triggering a frantic rescue operation to save those trapped beneath the debris.

Emergency services are currently engaged in efforts to free individuals still trapped under the wreckage as the government of Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is situated, has initiated an inquiry into the incident.

According to Reuters, footage captured by local news channels reveals the monumental billboard swaying perilously in the wind before succumbing to the forces of nature and crashing into buildings near a busy road in the city’s eastern suburb of Ghatkopar. Several vehicles were crushed in the accident, adding to the devastation.

Images from the scene depict emergency teams tirelessly working through the wreckage, with dramatic video footage showcasing rescue workers pulling victims from beneath the fallen billboard and utilizing power tools to cut through the metal debris.

“We have rescued around 80 people safely,” an official told news agency ANI. “There is one red car which has been severely damaged; we suspect some people are trapped inside.”

Among those recounting their harrowing experiences is Akshay Vasant Patil, a 20-year-old courier service worker, who narrowly escaped from beneath the collapsing billboard. “I realized the billboard was falling and tried to get out and run but got stuck between cars,” he said, detailing the chaotic moments.

Tragically, Bharat, 24, lost his life while seeking shelter from the rain. “He stopped to take shelter under a nearby bridge. But then, the billboard came down and crushed him to death,” recounted his mother, Naina Vinod Rathod, in a heart-wrenching statement.

In response to the incident, Mumbai’s civic authorities attributed the collapse to “speedy winds” and highlighted the unauthorized installation of the oversized billboard. The responsible agency has been issued a notice to dismantle similar structures immediately.

Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, has pledged financial assistance to the affected families, offering 500,000 rupees ($5,987; £4,767) as a measure of support during these trying times.

Monday’s dust storm brought parts of the city to a standstill, resulting in uprooted trees, travel chaos, and power cuts. Several flights were temporarily suspended or diverted at the city’s international airport, as reported by local media.

Mumbai, known for its susceptibility to severe flooding and rain-related incidents during the monsoon season, once again faces the grim reality of such natural calamities.

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