Billboard Owner Arrested After Massive Sign Crushes Gas Station, Killing 16

The owner of a massive billboard that collapsed last week leading to 16 deaths was arrested after a three-day manhunt across India.

On Monday, a huge billboard collapsed during a fierce storm, crushing multiple structures and a gas station, as well as killing 16 people and leaving more than 75 people injured, according to the Indian Express.

Reuters said that the agency that installed the billboard did not have a permit for the structure, which it said was larger than an Olympic-size swimming pool.

That led police to seek Bhavesh Bhinde, owner of Ego Media Pvt Ltd.


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However, according to NDTV, Bhinde tried to stay a step ahead of law enforcement.

At first, he left Mumbai, but returned the next day. He then stayed with a relative for a day, before leaving that town and heading to Udaipur, where he stayed at a hotel.

Police said he kept changing his name to elude them, noting that the operation to find him was known only to a few.

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Police said they had eight teams searching for Bhinde. The charges against him were not disclosed.

“The operation was a top secret, and even the Udaipur police did not know about it,” NDTV quoted an official on the investigating team.

During the storm that brought down the billboard, wind speeds ranged from about 24 mph to about 55 mph, according to Indian Express.


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The billboard smashed into a gas station homes and cars, trapping more than 100 people, according to Reuters.

“To prevent such accidents from happening again, instructions have been given to conduct a structural audit of all hoardings in Mumbai and immediately take down dangerous ones,” Eknath Shinde, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, said. Hoardings is the word India uses for billboards.

“Out of 1,300 such hoardings in Mumbai, around 30 have not submitted a structural stability report that is mandatory every two years,” Bhushan Gagrani, who heads the agency that gives permits for billboards, said.

Rescuers worked into the night to pull people from the wreckage caused by the late afternoon storm.

“The operation was very challenging due to the weight of the structure and the presence of flammable liquid and gas at the site,” Mohsen Shahedi, a senior National Disaster Response Force officer, said.

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