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Ghatkopar hoarding collapse: 73 damaged vehicles retrieved; debris removal work still on

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Wreckage of the vehicles that were damaged after a 100-foot tall illegal billboard fell on a petrol pump on Monday due to rains and dust storm, in Ghatkopar area of Mumbai, Thursday, May 16, 2024

Wreckage of the vehicles that were damaged after a 100-foot tall illegal billboard fell on a petrol pump on Monday due to rains and dust storm, in Ghatkopar area of Mumbai, Thursday, May 16, 2024

Mumbai: More than 70 vehicles, including cars, were retrieved from the wreckage at the site of a hoarding crash in Mumbai as mangled metal debris at a petrol pump exhibited signs of a tragedy that has claimed 16 lives.

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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Bhushan Gagrani announced end of the 66-hour-long search and rescue operation at the crash site on Thursday morning, but men and machinery were working overtime to clear the debris four days on.

The 120 feet x 120 feet billboard collapsed onto a nearby petrol pump in suburban Ghatkopar during gusty winds and heavy unseasonal rains on Monday evening, trapping people and vehicles under its giant wreckage. As many as 16 people were killed and 75 others were injured in the tragedy.

The civic chief called off the rescue operation at 10.30 am after reviewing the situation at the petrol pump, but the the work of clearing the debris was on till late evening with the help of JCB, dumpers, cranes and other equipment.

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The rescue team had retrieved the last two bodies trapped in a car below a girder shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

A BMC official said as many as 73 vehicles, including 30 two-wheelers, 31 four-wheelers, eight autorickshaws and two heavy vehicles -- all damaged in the crash -- were retrieved from the site, and handed over to the police as their owners came forward to claim them.

Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed for the search and rescue operation since Monday evening. The Mumbai Fire Brigade had deployed 12 fire engines and several other vehicles for the exercise. All these were withdrawn after the operation was over.

Another civic official said the Fire Brigade has still kept three fire tenders and some senior officials posted there as a precautionary measure considering the fuel stock in the tanks of the petrol pump.

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