17 killed as wall falls on three houses in Met­tupalayam

Newly con­structed 15-foot struc­ture col­lapses amid heavy rains in Coimbatore district

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

Seven­teen per­sons, in­clud­ing three chil­dren, were killed in sleep when three houses col­lapsed af­ter a 15foot com­pound wall fell on them at Nadur in Met­tupalayam in Coimbatore district early on Mon­day.

The vic­tims were all ca­sual labour­ers from the Sched­uled Caste com­mu­nity that had lived in the houses for over 60 years.

Of­fi­cials and the po­lice said that fol­low­ing heavy rains that had lashed the area in the past few days, the newly con­structed com­pound wall at the rear of tex­tile trader S. Si­va­sub­ra­ma­niam’s house in Co­op­er­a­tive Colony fell on the tile-roofed houses of the labour­ers, killing the in­hab­i­tants in­stantly.

R. Rathi­nam, a neighbour, said he woke up to the loud noise. “When I stepped out, I could not see the houses. The lights, too, were miss­ing, and I re­alised some­thing had hap­pened.”

The villagers, who soon re­alised the grav­ity of the ac­ci­dent, could be­gin search­ing for the sur­vivors only af­ter day­break. How­ever, they could only find bod­ies amid the rub­ble. Res­cuers and the po­lice ar­rived later, Nadur res­i­dents said. Two fire ten­ders and four earth-movers were pressed into ser­vice.

The vic­tims were iden­ti­fied as Anandh Ku­mar, 40, his wife Nathiya,30, and chil­dren Ak­shaya, 7, and Logu­ram, 7; Arukkani, 50, her mother Chin­nam­mal, 70, sis­ter Ruk­mani, 40, and chil­dren Harisudha, 16, and Ma­ha­lak­shmi,10; Si­vakami, 45, her daugh­ter Vaidegi, 20, her hus­band Palanisamy's nephew Ra­manathan, 20 and niece Nivetha,18, mother Obi­ammal, 50; Thi­la­ga­vathi, 50, Gu­rusamy, 45, and Man­galam­mal, 60.

Coimbatore Col­lec­tor K. Ra­ja­mani told jour­nal­ists that the govern­ment had or­dered ₹4 lakh com­pen­sa­tion for kin of the de­ceased.

He added that the villagers had in­formed him about the con­tro­versy over the con­struc­tion of the com­pound wall. If found il­le­gal, it would be de­mol­ished, he said.

Fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent, res­i­dents of Nadur staged a protest, de­mand­ing the im­me­di­ate ar­rest of the owner of the land, where the wall was con­structed. They also de­manded that the so­latium of ₹4 lakh be in­creased to ₹25 lakh dur­ing a meet­ing with the Col­lec­tor. Ear­lier, about 500 lo­cal peo­ple staged a sit-in on the Met­tupalayam-Ooty road, seek­ing the ar­rest of the land owner.

The Met­tupalayam Po­lice have reg­is­tered a case against tex­tile trader Si­va­sub­ra­ma­niam un­der Sec­tion 304 A and Sec­tion 4 of Tamil Nadu Prop­erty (Pre­ven­tion of Dam­age and Loss) Act (mis­chief caus­ing dam­age to prop­erty).

M. PERIASAMY ■

Hard at work: Res­cuers work­ing at the site at Nadur in Met­tupalayam on Mon­day.

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