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Kalpana Talkies collapse kills two

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 8: Two persons were killed as a portion of the roof of Kalpana Talkies, one of the city’s oldest theatres, caved in today while workers were engaged in demolishing the building.

The complex is being razed to the ground to make way for a shopping mall and multiplex.

The deceased were labourers engaged in the demolition job. They were breaking the concrete roof with hammers when a chunk at the rear side of the defunct theatre collapsed, burying them underneath it.

While one of them died on the spot, the other was declared brought dead at Capital Hospital.

Eyewitnesses said one of the bodies remained trapped in the debris for around 90 minutes. It was extricated only after firemen reached the spot and cleared the debris. The deceased are yet to be identified.

“I was on duty when suddenly I heard a crash and then screams followed. When I rushed to the spot, the portion of the roof had already caved in. I immediately told my employers,” said Pitambar Jena, the security guard posted at the cinema complex. Around 15 labourers were engaged in the demolition work.

The cinema set up in the 60s was not only a major source of entertainment, but was also is associated with the evolution of the city. The area was named Kalpana Square because of the hall.

Besides Kalpana Square, two other city localities — Rabi Talkies Square and Sriya Square — owe their names to two halls.

Local residents said that the demolition work at the Kalpana Talkies had started last month. A shopping mall and a multiplex are expected to come up at the place.

“In the 60s, the hall was famous for screening original south Indian movies. The screen of the cinema was also the largest in the city. Its closure in 2011 was a shock for many of us who used to visit the hall when there were only a handful of theatres in the city,” said Pitabas Sethi, a 67-year-old resident of Badagada.

Fire officials said that the building had become weak. “We had to press around 50 personnel for the rescue operation. We succeeded in retrieving the bodies. The building still remains weak and chances of other portions caving in cannot be ruled out,” said assistant fire officer, Bhubaneswar, Ramesh Chandra Majhi. The owner of the hall could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.