Fourteen killed and dozens injured after Mumbai billboard collapse

A huge ad billboard can be seen collapsed onto a petrol station and some housing in a suburb of Mumbai, India.
The vast advert fell on top of a petrol station and some houses in Ghatkopar, a suburb of Mumbai [Reuters]

At least 14 people have been killed and dozens more injured after a giant billboard collapsed during a sudden storm in the Indian city of Mumbai.

The billboard, measuring 70m by 50m according to the police, fell onto houses and a petrol station in the city on Monday.

Emergency services say a few people are still trapped under it and a rescue operation is under way.

The government of Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located, has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Rescue workers are seen moving through wreckage after a huge billboard blew down in sudden storm in Mumbai, India.
Some people could still be trapped in the wreckage, officials say [Reuters]

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.

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.

"We have rescued around 80 people safely," an official told news agency ANI. "There is one red car which has been severely damaged, we suspect there are some people trapped inside."

Akshay Vasant Patil seen with a bandage around his head
Akshay Vasant Patil says he managed to escape from under the billboard soon after it collapsed [BBC]

Akshay Vasant Patil, a 20-year-old who works with a courier service, was waiting at the petrol station with his car when the storm broke.

"I realised the billboard was falling and tried to get out and run but got stuck between cars," he said.

"Eight to nine people, including me, managed to escape."

But Mr Patil saw many others stuck in trucks and cars under the collapsed billboard.

Among the victims was Bharat, 24, who was on his way to work when the rain started.

"He stopped to take shelter under a nearby bridge. But then, the billboard came down and crushed him to death," his mother, Naina Vinod Rathod, said.

Ms Rathod, who was at home at that time, found out about the tragedy in a call from her husband.

"I immediately rushed to the spot but my son had died by the time I arrived," she said.

Naina Vinod Rathod talks to BBC News about the death of her son
Naina Vinod Rathod says she rushed to site of the accident after finding out her son was there [BBC]

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, Mumbai's civic authorities said that “speedy winds” had caused the collapse and several agencies, including the police, fire and national disaster response teams, were involved in the rescue operation.

Authorities also say that the billboard was several times the permitted size and the agency that put it up did not have 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.

Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, said the state government would provide financial assistance of 500,000 rupees ($5,987; £4,767) to the families of those killed and injured in the incident.

Monday's dust storm brought parts of the city to a standstill, ripping up trees, causing travel chaos and power cuts.

Several flights were temporarily suspended or diverted at the city's international airport, local media reported.

Mumbai is one of several cities in India prone to severe flooding and rain-related incidents during the monsoon season - which is usually between June and September.

Additional reporting by Tom McArthur in London.