Calcutta, Sept. 9: Six workers were killed when the roof of a jute mill in North 24-Parganas collapsed late last night.
Around 50 labourers working in the mechanical workshop of the Anglo India Jute Mill in Jagaddal, about 30 km from Calcutta, are feared trapped in the debris. Rescue operations were going on till late tonight. Five workers who suffered minor injuries have been rescued.
The deceased have been identified as Nirapada Ghosh, Ramsaran Gupta, Ajay Shaw, Sanjay Prasad, Ram Lakhan Parsi and Dasrath Parsi, police said.
The mill’s senior vice-president, P.K. Saran, and labour officer A.S. Upadhyay have been arrested. Saran refused to comment on the mishap.
A 30-foot beam supporting the roof came crashing down around 10.15 last night, blocking the only entrance and exit of the workshop, said North 24-Parganas superintendent of police Praveen Kumar.
“The roof caved in, trapping around 50 labourers working in the unit on night shift. Within 15 minutes, police and fire department officials reached the spot for rescue operations.”
However, the army’s help had to be sought as the police and fire brigade teams faced an uphill task. “A team of trained army personnel arrived by midnight to help us in the rescue operations. Cranes were used to move the iron beam and chunks of the collapsed roof,” Kumar added.
A senior fire services official said: “We called the army cantonment at Barrackpore, which had the instruments to cut iron girders. We worked continuously for over 14 hours before rescuing a few trapped labourers and bringing out the six bodies.”
Labourers alleged that they had earlier appealed to the mill authorities to carry out repairs at the factory after a similar mishap last year, but no action was taken.
“We had made repeated appeals to the mill authorities but nothing was done. Some temporary repair was carried out after last year’s incident and this (the collapse) was waiting to happen,” said Haripada Biswas, the local Forward Block MLA and Citu unit secretary.
The CPM has demanded arrest of the owner, manager and the civil engineer of the jute mill. “They are responsible for the death of these men. The district authorities should make sure that extensive repair work is taken up to provide better working conditions for the workers,” Biswas said.