At least 15 people, including four children, were killed and two others injured in Pune on Saturday when a portion of a 22-ft high compound wall of a housing society collapsed on adjoining shanties following incessant rains, trapping the sleeping families under the debris, officials said.
A case of culpable homicide was registered against developers of two residential projects, site engineers and labour contractors, an officer said.
The incident took place between 1:30 am and 1:45 am at Kondhwa and the victims were labourers and their family members, a majority of them from Bihar, who were living in makeshift shelters at the under-construction residential project where deep excavation work was underway.
The accused builders are identified as Jagdishprasad Agarwal, 64, Sachin Agarwal, 34, Rajesh Jagdishprasad Agarwal, 27, Vivek Agarwal, 21, and Vipul Agarwal, 21, of Alcon Landmarks, and Pankaj Vora, Suresh Shah and Rashmikant Gandhi of Kanchan Royal Exotica project for which excavation work was going on, a police officer said.
They are booked under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, he said.
"The name of the site where the excavation work was going on is Kanchan Royal Exotica. Vora, Shah and Gandhi are the partners in the project," he said, adding that no arrest is made so far.
Pune Municipal Corporation commissioner Saurabh Rao said prima facie, it appears the soil may have loosened due to heavy rain coupled with the excavation work that was carried out 'irresponsibly' close to the retaining wall of the housing society.
The intensity of the impact increased as many cars parked along the wall inside the society too fell on the shanties, officials said.
Pune had received 73.1 millimetres of rain on Friday, the second highest rainfall in June since 2010.
15 people died and three were rescued, out of which two are undergoing treatment, officials said.
Expressing grief over loss of lives, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered an inquiry into the incident.
'Extremely saddened to know about loss of lives in the Kondhwa, Pune wall collapse incident. My deepest condolences to the families and praying for speedy recovery of the injured. Directed Pune Collector to conduct an in-depth enquiry,' Fadnavis said on Twitter.
The state government has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of the deceased, an official said.
The Pune Municipal Corporation commissioner said a committee has been set up to probe the incident.
"Deep excavation work was going on at the site adjacent to the Alcon Stylus society. The retaining wall which caved in was located between the under-construction site and the housing society," he said.
"In the landslide, the 20-22 feet wall caved in and fell on the makeshift shanties of labourers which were put up along the wall," the commissioner said.
"There are set guidelines and dos and don'ts when permission is given for constructing a building. According to preliminary investigation, deep excavation was being carried out in an irresponsible manner at the site. The digging work was going on almost near the wall," the civic chief said.
He said a five-member committee comprising additional collector, officials of Building Permission department of the municipal corporation, labour department and an independent structural expert from the College of Engineering, has been set up to probe the incident.
"The committee will submit its report in the next seven days, and action will be taken against those responsible for the mishap as per findings of the report," he said.
Rao said majority of the deceased hailed from Bihar.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also announced ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the families of each of the deceased.
A statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office in Patna said Kumar has expressed 'deep sorrow over the wall collapse at Kondhwa in Pune and condoled the death of 15 people from Katihar district in Bihar'.
Katihar District Magistrate Poonam said the deceased have been identified. All of them were residents of Barsoi sub-division of the district, 14 from Balrampur block and one from Kadwa, she said.
She also added that arrangements are being made to expeditiously bring the bodies by an air ambulance and prompt payments of ex gratia would be ensured.
Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao also expressed grief over the incident.
'I was deeply saddened to know about the death of innocent workers, including women and children in the incident of collapse of a compound wall of a residential complex in Pune. Every life lost in incident was precious. My heart goes out to the kin of all those who lost their loved ones, and wish speedy recovery to the injured,' he said in a statement.
State Congress chief Ashok Chavan urged the Maharashtra government to extend all help to families of the dead and injured.
The deceased have been identified as Alok Sharma, 28, Mohan Sharma, 24, Aman Sharma, 19, Ravi sharma, 19, Laxmikant Sahani, 33, Sunil Singh, 35, Ovi Das, 2, Sonali Das, 6, Bhima Das, 38, Sangita Devi, 26, Ajit Kumar Sharma, 7, Rekhal Kumar Sharma, 5, Niva Devi, 30, Dipranjan Sharma and Avdesh Singh.
Pune district officials said ex gratia will be given to the next of kin of the deceased as per provisions of the Disaster Management Act.