Mumbai's governing body probes collapse, suspends staff

Mumbai's governing body probes collapse, suspends staff

MUMBAI - Mumbai's municipal government said it has suspended seven engineers and is investigating another 11 members of staff after the collapse of a five-storey residential building last week, which left 60 people dead.

The collapse happened at daybreak on Friday while more than 90 people were inside the building owned by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), which has said it asked residents earlier this year to move out.

It was unclear why residents had not moved, or why they had been asked to do so, but local media said the building in Mumbai's east had been listed as needing "urgent repairs".

"The corporation has ordered an official inquiry against 18 officers and workers after the multi-story building collapsed on Friday," the MCGM said in a statement on Sunday night.

Out of these 18, seven engineers have already been suspended, it added, without giving details.

A two-member committee has also been named to determine the cause of the accident and set up a team of technical experts, who would submit a report on the incident within a month.

Police said on Sunday they had arrested one man, who was identified by the Press Trust of India news agency as Ashok Mehta, who occupied a ground-floor office and warehouse in the building.

It said he was accused of carrying out faulty and unauthorised renovations on the building, from which 33 people were pulled out alive.

The collapse was the latest in a string of building disasters to hit Mumbai and its surrounding areas, including the cave-in of an apartment block in April that left 74 dead.

Huge demand for homes, the high cost of housing and pervasive corruption lead to often illegal and substandard construction in the Indian financial capital, where more than half of the population lives in slums.

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