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Sixteen killed after Mumbai billboard collapses

A billboard has fallen in the Ghatkopar suburb of Mumbai killing sixteen and injuring dozens

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Iron advertising structures can become victims to rust in harsh weather

The safety and legality of Mumbai billboards have been called into question following the devastating collapse of the large hoarding in the city.

So far it is reported that sixteen people have been killed and dozens injured after the 70m x 50m hoarding fell onto houses and a petrol station Monday, May 13th, 2024.

Rescue operations have ended according to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the governing civic body of Mumbai, which says it is confident that no more people are trapped in the wreckage.

Reports say that the collapse was caused by a severe storm which included “speedy winds” that caused the billboard to sway before crashing down and trapping several vehicles below.

Speaking to the BBC, Akshay Vasant Patil said: "I realised the billboard was falling and tried to get out and run but got stuck between cars. Eight to nine people, including me, managed to escape."

Local authorities have stated that the billboard was several times larger than the permitted size and the agency that erected the billboard did not have permission to do so.

The hoarding has been in place since 2021, and according to local journalists was rented out at ?2 crore a month (£189,000). 

According to journalist Linah Baliga, the BMC wrote to the Government Railway Police (GRP), which manages the land, about the illegality of the billboard in 2021 to which the GRP said that they did not need the BMC’s permission. The case is now in the Supreme Court. 

The role of the GRP is to observe law and order in all railway properties. The BMC has said that 179 illegal billboards still stand in different spots throughout Mumbai.

With weather conditions continuing to worsen around the world, advertising and signage companies are having to ensure the safe setup and maintenance of installations.

When storm Isha hit the UK in February Craig Brown, chief executive officer at International Signage Association-UK (ISA-UK), said: “With the high winds and storm warnings right across the UK this evening and tomorrow morning it’s inevitable that there will be structural damage to some buildings and signage.

“Please make the effort to reach out to your clients to make them aware [that] visual inspections of their sites are strongly recommended and be prepared to reach out to commercial businesses in your area to offer advice and guidance and how you or your contacts might be able to assist.”

In 2015 a woman was seriously injured after a four-tonne digital billboard fell from a site in London. At the time Clear Channel investigated the installation and 39 others that were rolled out around that time.

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