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14 Dead, 60 Injured After Huge Billboard Falls During Mumbai Dust Storm

Update : 14 May 2024, 07:59

Fourteen people were killed and at least 60 injured after a billboard collapsed during a fierce storm in Mumbai, officials said Monday. The billboard was opposite the fuel station. 

Visuals show the structure crashing down right in the middle of the refuelling facility. The civic authorities are looking into whether the billboard advertisement agency had permission to install the structure.

The metal frame of the billboard tore through the roof of several cars that were at the fuel station. 

"I was there when a big hoarding of some builder fell down. All the cars, bikes and people that were there got stuck. We helped people get out and somehow manage to escape," an eyewitness, Swapnil Khupte, told news agency ANI.

The police said teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are at the site, and are looking for survivors trapped under the debris.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said rescuing people is the priority, and the government will take care of treatment of those who were injured. "Rs 5 lakh will be given to the family of those who have lost their lives. I have directed the authorities concerned to check all such hoardings in Mumbai," Mr Shinde said.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a post on X said the state government has ordered an investigation into the incident.

Mumbai was caught off guard by the strong dust storm, which crippled transport, uprooted trees and structures, and led to power outage in many districts of the financial capital. The sky turned dark when the dust storm hit the city, with people posting visuals on social media.

Local trains, a section of the metro network, and airport services were temporarily stopped amid a darkening sky.

"Due to the inclement weather and dust storms in the city, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) temporarily suspended flight operations for around 66 minutes due to low visibility and gusty winds," Mumbai airport said in a statement.

"Operations resumed at 17:03 hours. During this time, the airport saw 15 diversions. CSMIA last week completed its pre-monsoon runway maintenance successfully, ensuring safe and smooth aircraft operations. Committed to efficiency and passenger safety, the airport remains steadfast to prioritise seamless operations," it said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) Mumbai issued a "nowcast warning" forecasting a thunderstorm accompanied by lightning and moderate to intense rain for Thane, Palghar, and Mumbai.

The metro did not run between Aarey and Andheri East after a billboard landed on the overheard wire. Suburban trains were affected after an overhead equipment pole between Thane and Mulund got bent due to the strong winds.

The suburban services on the main line have been stopped, the chief spokesperson of Central Railway said.

The unseasonal rain brought some respite from the scorching heat, but power outage in Thane's Kalwa and some other areas led to more trouble for residents.  Source: NDTV 

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