New Delhi: At least seven persons, including four women, were killed and 25 injured on Tuesday night when adjacent buildings collapsed near Old Delhi's Jama Masjid.

There are also fears that some more victims could be under the rubble.

The five persons were brought dead to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narain Hospital while 25 others who suffered head and limb injuries were undergoing treatment, police said.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi ordered an inquiry into the collapse of two buildings, including a 70-year-old structure, in Chandni Mahal. It has also instructed the City Zone Deputy Commissioner to submit the preliminary report on Wednesday and final report within three days.

The collapse also prompted Delhi government to blame MCD, saying a tragedy of this kind was "waiting to happen" in the area as the civic officials were "never bothered" to take any precautionary measures despite the dilapidated condition of the buildings.
The incident came as a stark reminder to the last November's building collapse in east Delhi's Laxmi Nagar which claimed over 70 lives.

Locals and officials said an under-construction building collapsed first, which had an impact on the multi-storey building leading to its collapse.

Construction was happening in a building adjacent to the 70-year-old building and the owner of the former structure had dug a deep foundation for constructing another floor which led to the weakening of the other building, locals claimed.

The locality where the incident took place is dotted with similar "old and dangerous" buildings. Narrow lanes leading to the disaster site has affected the pace of rescue work as people found it difficult to reach the site.

At the collapse site, rescue workers worked to remove the debris to locate survivors. A large number of locals gathered at the spot and helped in rescue work.

Fearing that nearby buildings may get affected, police evacuated people residing in them. Construction workers are being roped in to break the portions of concrete and extricate trapped people, a senior police official said.

Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Delhi Police, Fire Brigade and Delhi Disaster Management Authority were helping in the rescue work, the official said.

Coming down heavily on the MCD, Delhi government said the civic body should be blamed for the incident. Food and Civil Supplies Minister Harun Yusuf said locals had approached the MCD several times but they never bothered to take any precautionary measures.

"The MCD is directly responsible for the tragedy. It was waiting to happen. They never bothered to check the structural safety of the old buildings. They only know how to make money," Yusuf said.

Senior BJP leader Vijay Goel said there were several illegal construction happening in the area. "This collapse was inevitable," he said.

Yogender Chandolia, Chairman of the BJP-ruled civic body's Standing Committee, also admitted that there were several old and dilapidated buildings in the area. "We need to take a call on this," he said.

Meanwhile, MCD Commissioner K S Mehra asked City Zone Deputy Commissioner to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the incident. Mehra asked the official to submit a preliminary report by tomorrow and the final report within three days.
"Action will be taken based on the probe report," MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur said.

Locals said some vendors, who were selling vegetables on the pavement outside the buildings, were also trapped in the debris.
The rescue work was affected late in the night as the narrow lanes prevented earth-movers and cranes from entering the site.

"We have some problems because of the narrow lanes which is obstructing the rescue operations," a fire brigade official said.

(Agencies)