17 killed as wall falls on three houses in Mettupalayam
Newly constructed 15-foot structure collapses amid heavy rains in Coimbatore district
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).
Hard at work: Rescuers working at the site at Nadur in Mettupalayam on Monday.