One person was killed and four people were injured on Thursday evening when the three balconies of a four-storey house collapsed on the crowded pavement of Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, in Bhowanipore. The building had been “condemned” a while ago.
The cave-in occurred around 6.30 pm, when the topmost balcony collapsed on the one below. The second balcony gave way and the debris fell on the first-floor balcony, pulling it down. The victim was identified as Saroj Pal, 28, a local resident who was standing on the pavement.
The 18 families occupying the building — behind the Netaji Bhavan Metro station — escaped unhurt. They were rescued by officials of the fire brigade and Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). Pal’s body was retrieved from under the rubble.
Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee, who returned from Delhi on Thursday night and was on her way to her Kalighat residence from the airport, rushed to the spot. Till late on Thursday, she remained at the site with her party councillors and supporters.
Rinku Neogi, who lives on the second floor, said she heard a loud thud. “I thought it was an accident. I ran out, to see the balconies falling in a heap of brick and concrete,” she recalled.
According to police, the victim and the injured were pedestrians. “The pavement was crowded when the balconies caved in. The four injured were taken to SSKM Hospital, where 20-year-old Rupa Laha was stated to be in a critical condition,” said an officer of the local police station.
Hours after the collapse, a CMC team had arrived to demolish portions of the broken balconies that were dangling precariously. “We will decide on Friday whether the entire building will be demolished or not,” said Swapan Samaddar, mayor-in-council member (building).