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14 Killed as Massive Billboard Collapses in Mumbai

Rescue operations utilized excavators to clear mangled metal debris in the final search for survivors trapped beneath a collapsed billboard in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, resulting in at least 14 fatalities.

The enormous billboard, larger than an Olympic-sized swimming pool, toppled onto a fuel station, residences, and vehicles during a thunderstorm on Monday, leaving over 100 individuals trapped, according to authorities.

Rescuers worked tirelessly throughout the night to extricate people from the wreckage alongside a busy arterial road in the Mumbai suburb of Ghatkopar. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation reported rescuing 75 injured individuals and recovering 14 bodies.

Mohsen Shahedi, a senior officer from the National Disaster Response Force, described the operation as exceptionally challenging due to the structure’s weight and the presence of flammable liquids and gases at the scene. He stated that while the rescue operation was nearing completion, one final comprehensive search remained.

Videos captured the towering billboard swaying in the wind before succumbing to a dust storm and rain, bringing traffic to a halt and disrupting flights at Mumbai airport.

The agency responsible for the billboard lacked a permit from the BMC, the municipal body confirmed. The hoarding exceeded permissible dimensions, measuring approximately 1,338 square meters (14,400 square feet), nearly nine times the maximum size allowed.

The BMC issued instructions for the immediate removal of all hoardings belonging to the agency to prevent similar accidents in the future. Eknath Shinde, Maharashtra’s chief minister, emphasized the necessity for structural audits of all billboards in Mumbai, particularly those deemed hazardous.

Bhushan Gagrani, BMC’s head, disclosed that approximately 30 out of 1,300 billboards in Mumbai had not submitted mandatory structural stability reports every two years, prompting further investigation into compliance issues.

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