Giant billboard collapses onto group of pedestrians, killing at least 14

Rescue efforts were still underway in India after a storm caused a billboard to collapse onto pedestrians below, causing dozens of injuries and 14 deaths.

Heavy rain and high winds during a storm caused the 100-foot-tall billboard to fall onto a gas station below on Monday in the western city of Mumbai, injuring at least 74 people and causing more than a dozen deaths. Fox News reported.

“Yesterday (13 May) evening, in the Chheda Nagar area of Ghatkopar, a tragic incident occurred due to speedy winds, resulting in the collapse of a hoarding,” city officials reported, according to Fox News. “Medical treatment is currently being provided to 44 injured individuals, with 31 already discharged after receiving treatment. Unfortunately, 14 people succumbed to death in this mishap.”

The monsoon in India runs between June and September, bringing much-needed rain to the region but also potentially causing damage.

“Footage on local news channels shows the huge billboard swaying in the wind before giving way and crashing into the buildings near a busy road in the city’s eastern suburb of Ghatkopar. Several vehicles were crushed in the accident,” the BBC reported. “In photos from the scene, emergency teams can be seen working through the wreckage. Dramatic video footage shows rescue workers pulling out a victim from under the fallen billboard and using power tools to cut the metal.”

“I realised the billboard was falling and tried to get out and run but got stuck between cars,” said 20-year-old Akshay Vasant Patil who was waiting at the gas station as the storm hit, according to the BBC. “Eight to nine people, including me, managed to escape.”

“All of us were stuck for hours before people came and saved us,” Sunil Gaikwad, who was sheltering at the gas station with his wife and others, said from the hospital. “It was like a huge building falling on top of us.”

Officials told the Press Trust of India news agency that police are investigating the incident as the billboard may have been illegally installed. The BBC reported that authorities say the “billboard was several times the permitted size” and was erected without the proper permission.

“A notice was sent to the company, asking them to dismantle the structure and remove all similar hoardings from the city with immediate effect,” BBC noted.

“It is a painful and sad incident… I visited the spot yesterday,” Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said, announcing the government would be compensating the families of victims and that “strict action will be taken against the owner ” of the billboard.

“News of several casualties due to the collapse of a hoarding in Ghatkopar area of Mumbai is extremely sad. I express my deepest condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured and wish for the success of the relief and rescue operations,” President Droupadi Murmu said in a statement posted on X.

Frieda Powers


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