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HEADLINE STORY

Gigantic billboard falls on fuel station during Mumbai dust storm; 14 dead

Dozens of people were feared trapped under the debris and rescue efforts were underway.

Rescue work underway after a huge billboard collapsed on a fuel station due to strong winds and rain, at Ghatkopar area of the western Indian city of Mumbai, on Monday, May 13, 2024. At least eight people were killed while dozens were injured, said reports. (PTI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

FOURTEEN people were killed while several got injured when a massive billboard collapsed on a fuel station amid a strong dust storm in Ghatkopar area of Mumbai, India’s financial capital, on Monday (13) afternoon.

Dozens of people were feared trapped under the debris. Visuals of the 100-feet billboard falling down in the middle of the facility went viral on social media. It was erected opposite to the station.

The metal frame of the massive structure tore through the roof of several cars that were at the station at the moment.

The police added that National Disaster Response Force personnel were at the site and looking for survivors trapped under the collapsed structure.

Read: Heavy rain causes flood in desert nation UAE; global warming at play, says expert

Devendra Fadnavis, deputy chief minister of the western state of Maharashtra, said on X that the government has sought a probe into the incident.

Bhushan Gagrani, commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai civic body, later said that the hoarding was illegal as it did not have a license, Hindustan Times reported. 

“The hoarding that crashed in Ghatkopar was illegal as it did not have a license. We will check licences of all hoardings in Mumbai and if they don’t have licences, they will be considered illegal,” he was quoted as saying by the news outlet.

Chief minister Eknath Shinde said 57 people were rescued and sent to a hospital for treatment. He also arrived at the site.

India’s financial capital was hit by a strong dust storm on Monday afternoon, leaving the city crippled in no time with uprooted trees and billboards. Power supply was disrupted in many parts of the city and the transportation was thrown out of gear. The storm was accompanied by rain.

Read: Above average monsoon rainfall forecast for India

Operations at the Mumbai airport, one of the busiest in the country, were temporarily suspended and many flights were diverted.

“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,” airport authorities said in a statement, an NDTV report noted.

“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 added.

Running of trains, said to be the lifeline of the city, was also affected. Metro services between Aarey and Andheri East were also affected in some parts after a banner reportedly fell on overhead wire due to strong winds, a spokesperson said.

The India Meteorological Department Mumbai issued a “nowcast warning” predicting a thunderstorm accompanied by lightning and moderate to intense rain for Thane, Palghar, and Mumbai.

In some parts of Mumbai, winds were predicted to blow at of 40-50 kilometres per hour, accompanied by light to moderate rainfall.

While the unseasonal rain brought relief to the coastal city that was reeling under scorching heat, the sudden storm also left the citizens scared and authorities concerned.

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