New Delhi: Two men were killed and one critically injured when a portion of a 150-year-old, three-storey building collapsed in north Delhi’s Lahori Gate area on Friday morning. Situated on a narrow lane, the house was being repaired for the past one week during which no safety measure was taken, alleged locals. Eyewitnesses said construction labourers were having breakfast around 11.45am when the building suddenly collapsed. Bricks and concrete slabs fell on the labourers before they could get away. One of the labourers, Ram Karan (45), died on the spot while Manjhi Lal (30) died in a hospital. Another labourer, Mokesh (31), is in critical condition.
Asha Chowdhury (70), who stayed on the second flood with her daughter Sonali (28), said she had often asked the contractor to take protective measures. The ground floor housed a cloth shop and the first floor its godown. Police are now probing whether the house owner, Rattan Singh, who has been arrested, had taken the required permissions from the civic bodies.

Chowdhury, who has been staying in this house for 30 years since her marriage, said the labourers had been hammering the terrace above them since the morning, leading to cracks in their portions. “I decided to ask them to stop when the building started to shake as if there was an earthquake. Suddenly there was a loud roar and a portion of the building crashed. My daughter managed to pull me into her room or I would have been buried under the rubble. We got out through another door,” she said as she looked at the house through a window.

Police said Singh had initially planned to repair the building, but later tried to construct structures on the terrace. “We have registered a case against him for causing death due to negligence,” said Madhur Verma, DCP (north). Karan, who was trapped under the debris for quite some time, didn’t wear any protective gear, he added.

A North Corporation official said the property owner had wanted to demolish the terrace room. However, the official could not say if Singh had taken the permissions.

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