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Ceiling falls on 12 Class III students

Chakdah, Aug. 31: Twelve Class III students were today injured when a portion of the classroom ceiling of a primary school in Nadia collapsed on them.

Teachers of Marfodanga Primary School along with Madanpur residents took the 11 girls and a boy, all aged nine, to the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital in Kalyani, where doctors said the injuries of four were “serious”.

“The injuries of four girls are serious. They sustained head injuries,” said Nirupam Biswas, the hospital superintendent.

“They are Dipti Mondal, Nisha Sarkar, Shehnaz Hussein and Sushmita Mondal. They received six to eight stitches on their heads. They are recuperating,” he added.

The joint block development officer of Chakdah, Tarun Mullick, has lodged an FIR for alleged negligence against headmaster Suman Kundu, president of the local village education committee Baneswar Sarkar, and contractor Rabin Bhagat, who is responsible for the upkeep of the school building.

Kalyani subdivisional officer Saibal Chakraborty visited the students at the hospital and instructed authorities to treat them for free. Costs incurred by the parents for tests outside the hospital will be borne by the administration, he added.

“The administration will bear the cost of CT scans that parents had to get done at laboratories outside the hospital,” the SDO said. “I have also started an inquiry following instruction from district magistrate Abhinav Chandra.”

The school, which has 166 students now, was established in 1961. The building that housed the class in which the mishap took place was constructed in 2004 under the Sarva Siksha Mission. But classes, sources said, started in 2012.

Headmaster Kundu admitted the ceiling crashed because of poor maintenance. “It appears the portion of the ceiling crashed because of lack of maintenance in the eight years,” he said.

Students said the incident took place minutes after the classes began at 11am.

Yunus Mondal, the father of Shehnaz whose injury was stated to be “serious”, said he was coming out of the school gate after reaching her daughter when he heard the crashing sound.

“I couldn’t make out from where the sound came. It turned out to be my daughter’s class. The teachers asked me and some other guardians to rescue the children and bring them out of the classroom,” said Yunus, a carpenter.

Teacher Somenath Ganguly, who had just begun his Maths class with 30 students, said: “I had just completed taking the attendance of the students when a portion of the ceiling collapsed. The girls started screaming and I found that a dozen students were injured. I rushed out of the classroom and called some guardians and other teachers to help me rescue the injured children.”

The guardians arranged for autorickshaws and motorised cycle vans to take the children to the Kalyani hospital, about 8km away.

Durjodhan Sarkar, the father of injured Nisha, accused contractor Bhagat of not maintaining the building properly.

Baneswar Sarkar, the president of the village education committee, said: “The building was constructed in 2004 but classes started only in 2011. We found that the roof was leaking even after it was repaired at a cost of Rs 75,000. But it seems the repair work was not carried out properly.”

The SDO said the roof of the building would be reconstructed.