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Delhi airport roof collapse: Government negligence killed my father, says son of deceased cab driver

INDDelhi airport roof collapse: Government negligence killed my father, says son of deceased cab driver

The son of 45-year-old Ramesh Kumar, the cab driver who was killed after a portion of a canopy at Delhi airport’s Terminal 1 collapsed on his car on Friday morning, said “criminal negligence” on the part of the government led to his father’s untimely death.

“It is pure criminal negligence on the part of the government when a place like the airport in the national capital is not safe. Where should people go? Railway stations or bus stops? Those are not safe either,” said Ravinder Kumar, a student who recently finished his schooling.

The deceased worked for a cab company and would often do airport pick-ups and drops, his son said, adding that due to the rain on Friday, there were few passengers, so several cab drivers had been waiting under the canopy for a ride.

“My father usually worked night shifts. We had no idea he was caught in the accident. We got a call from airport authorities who told us he was injured, so we rushed to Terminal 1, but were told he had already succumbed to his injuries at Safdarjung Hospital,” said Mr. Kumar.

However, the body of the deceased has not yet been handed over to his family, Mr. Kumar said. “We went to the police station and hospital just to see his face, but we were ignored,” he said.

A native of Uttar Pradesh, Kumar had migrated to Delhi for work. He is survived by a family of four, for which he was the sole breadwinner.

“Every day, we see new technology being rolled out at the airport, but the government doesn’t care about safety. Today, I lost my father. Tomorrow, if there are any more deaths, then what? There is a massive question mark on the safety of people in public spaces,” his son said.

‘Injured stable’

Besides Kumar, six others were grievously injured in the roof collapse at 5 a.m. on Friday morning amid heavy rain in the Capital. They hail from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and are aged between 25 and 44.

“All injured are stable and treatment is under way,” said DCP (IGI) Usha Rangnani, adding that four cars were also damaged in the incident.

Four fire tenders were rushed to the site after a call was received at 5.30 a.m., said an official of the Delhi Fire Services, adding that after the injured persons were removed from the debris, they were taken to Medanta Hospital in ambulances.

One of the injured persons, Santosh Kumar Yadav, 28, was brought to AIIMS Trauma Centre. “His vitals are stable and he is responsible. He had a small cut on his head, and was discharged after a CT scan,” said acting chief Dr. Shivanand Gamanagatti, adding that the Civil Aviation Minister visited Mr. Yadav in hospital.

‘Scary incident’

Dashrath Ahirwa, 25, said he had sustained head injuries when a portion of the roof fell. “Doctors have assured me I will be fine and treatment is under way, but what happened today was frightening for us all,” said the cab driver.

Another driver, Arvind, 34, said, “I was just going about my daily work. It was raining and I was hoping to go home soon, but suddenly, I saw people screaming and running around. Something fell and hit my head, and when I checked, there was blood oozing from the wound. I was so terrified that I tried to run away and save myself.”

Suraj, who drives a vehicle that loads and unloads materials at the airport, said he heard a loud crash when the roof and pillars collapsed. “I heard people screaming, so I ran to the site, where people were running around in a panic. The structure kept collapsing like a set of dominoes,” he said.

Kamlesh, who unloads goods near the departure area, said he thought an under-construction site had collapsed. “I took the elevator up to check, but it was actually the canopy that fell. I cannot understand how the whole structure collapsed and crushed the cabs. I quickly took photos and videos as proof,” he said, adding that while his shift is from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., he and several other workers left early on account of the accident.

Another maintenance employee, Sachin, said the heavy rainfall was pressing heavily on the pillars. “When I saw them crash on the cars, I was worried if there were any drivers in the cabs,” he said.

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