Mumbai Fire Brigade: Building Collapses in the Inner City
Duration: 00:29:27; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 350.479; Saturation: 0.047; Lightness: 0.408; Volume: 0.375; Cuts per Minute: 45.324
Summary: These are videos of the aftermaths of building collapses and of the rescues of bodies trapped under debris by the fire department.
These images of the ruins of buildings confound ideas of permanence, of stability and sheltering that embody homes and buildings; where their elaborate tectonics of shelter are revealed as vulnerable and frightening in their heaviness.
The videos contain images of piles of debris, made up of the disintegrated architecture of buildings; the elaborate structures of steel beams, wooden and steel columns and concrete that have collapsed into each other over and around the bodies of their inhabitants.
These bodies have to be extricated carefully, sometimes from under heavy masonry and steel or cut out from under the mangled mess of reinforcement and concrete.
Each rescue effort is an exercise in the ingenuity of the fire-fighters as crowbars, hydraulic cutters, J.C.B’s, rope have to be deployed in turn to carefully prise the trapped persons out from under the weight of building material.
The first video is the aftermath of the collapse of a building in an inner city neighbourhood. The inner city areas of Mumbai developed as the older bazaar and mercantile town outside the fort where the British and Indian elite lived and worked forming a crucial trade link between the hinterlands and the port. The bazaars have transformed through the years, retaining to a large extent the structure of the specialized street bazaars.
Reports of building collapses such as this one are frequent as there is a huge proportion of dilapidated building stock within these precincts, a fall-out of the rent control act which resulted in insufficient finances for the structural maintenance of buildings. Structural alterations, lack of maintenance, complex networks of tenancies and ownerships make maintenance of these buildings difficult.
However, the frozen rents also make it necessary and possible for all sizes and types of businesses to make place within the nooks and crannies of the building. As a result, although the stability of the physical structure may be suspect; the complex, interlinked networks of tenancies, sub-tenancies under the rent control act keep these crumbling shells alive with diverse economic activities and residential communities.
Historically these areas have seen violent cleansing drives by the British, especially post 1803 after the fire when the BIT undertook improvement schemes that led to large-scale demolition and rehabilitation. The heavily critiqued development control regulation act is the latest state initiative to address the dilapidation and rehabilitation of the precincts, which without proper infrastructure augmentation further burdens the dense precincts with more built up area, population, parking water and power requirements.
The second video in an unidentified location is of a rescue of a worker caught under the collapsed building, his body covered with dust curled in a gap in the rubble is gently rescued by the huge claw of the monster machine and its attendant firemen.
The video shows a two storied teeming, moving high pile of debris and men, picking and tossing debris off from the site of a building collapse.
The collapsed building was sandwiched in between a mosque and a residential building in a dense inner city neighbourhood.
People and objects are moved out and passed onto the first floor of the mosque.
The drama shifts to the street as a JCB (JCB has become a generic term for any mechanical digger-excavator you will see) rolls in to move the mangled wrecks of cars out of the way through the crowd of onlookers and policemen has gathered on the street.
The camera moves to two young men with surgical masks and gloves amongst the crowd of volunteers and firefighters who make their way down to the street. They are followed by an injured man being carried down on a stretcher through the crowd of men and firemen down the mountain of debris onto the street.
The video begins with firemen standing around a hole between debris through which a man curled up and buried is visible.
They hand him a cutter and ask him to cut himself out.
As a JCB gently clears the debris in front of the collapsed building a small hole is being drilled/cut by a hand in the wall above.
There is a huge pile of debris of crumbled chunks of masonry steel pipes and timber, which the machine claws at.
The camera returns to a trapped man, firemen try to cut the steel reinforcement that is left of the slab that has collapsed over him.
You see his face covered with dust as the firemen ask him whether his arm is stuck, holding up the slab and trying to pull him out, reassuring him and his body lying pressed in between all the crumbled plaster and debris.
The JCB is brought in to clear away the pile of debris in front. A fireman directs the operator as the huge metal claw maneuvered inches away from the huddled body.
Lowered slowly its teeth swallow the huddled figure, as it disappears behind the machine.
After the load on his leg has mostly been scraped off, he is pulled out into a sitting position, dazed and covered in dust and blood.
The JCB is brought in again; a helmet is put on the man's head as it moves in very close to clear the debris.
3 firemen prop the steel stanchion that has fallen across the leg and pull the man out.