Two Indian labourers die after floor collapses on Muscat building site

Six other Indian construction workers were also injured by falling debris, reports Saleh Al Shaibany from the Omani capital.

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MUSCAT // Two Indian labourers died and six were injured on Tuesday after the floor of the house they were constructing collapsed in Muscat.

A concrete slab fell away from the second floor and fell on top of the two labourers who were working underneath. Six other Indian labourers were also injured by falling debris.

“We are not sure exactly what made the slab drop but our investigation leads to the removal of the supporting scaffolding before the concrete set properly,” said a police spokesman.

The police are seeking the contractor for questioning.

A construction expert said it normally takes about 15 days for the concrete floors of a residential house to mature, a process that involves watering the new floor to allow steel and concrete to bond.

“The problem is normally caused by bad construction supervision or inferior building materials. These two are common culprits when it comes to the collapse of new floors,” Raj Ganguli, a construction expert, said.

Though this is the first such building accident in Oman this year, official statistics show there were seven cases of collapsing walls or floors in 2016 on construction sites in different parts of the country, in which a total of 16 labourers lost their lives. The blame for such accidents often falls on contractors employing unskilled or illegal labour as well as using low-grade building materials.

Construction inspectors working for the government’s planning department said it was all about saving costs for contractors to maximise their costs.

“These are unscrupulous contractors who want to build houses on the cheap side,” said Khalaf Al Sinani, a building inspector at the national planning department. “They use substandard material or employ workers who are not qualified to do the job. They even get illegal labourers so they can pay them half the going rate.”