IANS

Eight persons were killed and 63 others injured in two separate incidents -- a gigantic hoarding in Ghatkopar and a vertical steel parking lot in Wadala -- crashing in Mumbai, in the aftermath of a massive dust-storm that shrouded the city for over two hours, following by unseasonal rains, the BMC Disaster Control said here on Monday.

A monstrous hoarding for advertisements, erected by a private party, crashed in the gusty winds on several houses and a petrol pump in Pant Nagar, Ghatkopar east suburb around 4.15 p.m.

At least 63 people were injured and another 70 are still feared trapped under the hoarding when many vehicles had queued up to refill petrol-diesel.

In Wadala, a multi-storied, vertical steel parking lot near the Shreeji Towers building crashed on a main road around 4.15 p.m., in the squally dust-storm.

The tumbling parking lot crushed around a dozen vehicles and one person sitting in a car has been trapped, and 2 others were injured, said the officials.

The Mumbai Fire Brigade rushed over a dozen fire engines, and the NDRF plus the MMRDA rushed its expert teams which managed to rescue around 65 persons and continue a huge search and rescue operation for the others still trapped in the Ghatkopar hoarding crash.

A heavy duty crane was deployed to lift the hoarding, break it into pieces to enable the rescuers to reach the victims trapped.

Taking serious cognisance, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde rushed to the tragedy spot, enquired about the rescue operations, and ordered the BMC Commissioner Bhushan Gagrani and Mumbai Police to conduct a probe into the tragedy.

"I have also ordered the BMC authorities to carry out a special audit of all the hoardings in Mumbai and remove all the illegal ones from the city," Shinde told mediapersons, while announcing an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased.

Bharatiya Janata Party ex-MP Kirit Somaiya told mediapersons from the site that the hoarding was allegedly illegal and the BMC had reportedly issued a notice to remove it on Sunday.

He demanded a thorough inquiry into how the illegal hoarding was allowed to be erected without following safety norms and called for arresting and slapping criminal charges against the owners.

Besides the two major tragedies, there were reports of several tree crashes, vehicular accidents and other minor incidents due to the sudden inclement weather conditions in which visibility levels plummeted.

After the dust storm subsided, many parts of Mumbai were lashed by rains, bringing some respite from the heat and humidity.

The BMC Disaster Control said that in two hours between 4-6 p.m., south Mumbai recorded an average of 18 mm rains, eastern suburbs notched 47 mm and the western suburbs recorded 35 mm rainfall.

The BMC has issued a warning of a thunderstorm likely to hit parts of Mumbai with strong winds of 50-60 kmph, later on Monday, and advised citizens to exercise precautions while stepping out.

The IMD Pune head K.S. Hosalikar said that a moderate to intense thunderstorm accompanied by strong winds, is likely to lash Thane, Raigad, Palghar, Ahmednagar, Pune and Satara, besides parts of Mumbai in the next few hours.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)

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