Monday, July 08, 2013

Sec'bad Hotel Collapse: Did ‘Haleem-Making' Kiln Atop Caused Mishap? 15 Killed, Several Injured, Govt Mum

By Syed Mirza / Hyderabad

Did the construction of a kiln for making “haleem” — a thick beef stew — atop the building lead to the collapse of the City Light Hotel in Secunderabad on Monday morning, where at least fifteen people were killed and many others were feared trapped under the debris? The hotel owner had reportedly taken up the construction of a “bhatti” (a kiln made of brick and mud) for cooking “haleem”, a popular dish made especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
 The hotel management had hired labourers for the making the temporary structure, to get it ready in time for Ramadan, beginning in two to three days. Commissioner T. Krishna Babu of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) said the construction of the “bhatti” and the use of large quantities of water for it may have weakened the structure, leading to the mishap. 

”It was being constructed on top. It may have increased the pressure on the building,” Babu said. The municipal commissioner, however, said the exact reason of the collapse would be known only after thorough investigations. He clarified that City Light hotel was not among the old buildings issued notices by the GHMC. He also denied that it was a dilapidated building. “The outward appearance was fine. 

It seemed to be a reasonably stable building. In the recent pre-monsoon survey, it was not identified for demolition,” he told reporters. Krishna Babu said 57 buildings in Secunderabad were issued notices and 15 of them were demolished by the GHMC in the past month. “Old building does not mean it is dilapidated. There are more than 100-year-old buildings and heritage buildings which are strong,” he said. City Light was a famous Iranian cafe, serving the popular Irani tea, biryani and other lip-smacking dishes.

Meanwhile, 15 people were killed when a hotel collapsed here early on Monday, police said. The two-storey building of City Light Hotel on Rashtrapati Road in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, collapsed around 6.30 a.m. Police, fire fighting personnel and rescue workers managed to evacuate 11 people from the rubble and shifted them to government-run Gandhi Hospital. 

The conditions of some of the injured is stated to be critical. Many auto-rickshaw drivers and daily wage workers were at the famous joint to have Iranian tea and snacks. Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma told reporters that so far six bodies were recovered while 11 injured were taken out. ”We suspect another 20 people may be trapped under the debris,” he said. 

The police chief said they sought help of search experts from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) workers were seen clearing the debris with the help of fire fighting personnel. GHMC commissioner Krishna Babu supervised the rescue operation. One of the rescued hotel workers said there were 30 workers in the building at the time of the incident. 

Locals said the City Light hotel was one of the 200 old buildings which were issued notices by the GHMC for demolition but the owner had reportedly got a court stay.
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