Two women die as dome collapses


(The accident happened in the ashram on Friday the 26th October 1990)
The Hindu dated 29-10-1990

Two women die as dome collapses

From Our Correspondent


Two Americans Mrs. John Brown Hebel (45) and Mrs. Air Bonnie Lynni Mainaric (43), belonging to San Francisco U.S. were killed on Friday when the dome (kalasam) over the central gopuram of sananthana samskriti (eternal heritage) museum building under construction at Prasanthi Nilayam, about 90 km from here, collapsed.

Their bodies were extricated from the debris. Mr. Michael Oliver (25), escaped with multiple fractures. He was rushed to the Sri Satyasai Hospital Complex at Prasanthi Nilayam. He was reported to have suffered heamorrhage and was sent to Bangalore for further treatment with a doctor and two escorts.

Mr. P. Ramamohan Rao, Chairman, Prasanthi Nilayam Township Committee said the museum buildings, being constructed on the top of hillock near the administrative buildings of Sri Satyasai Institute of Higher Learning ( a deemed university), was designed by Bombay architects Godboe and Co and the designer was Mr. Pande, who had designed many high-rise buildings in Bombay and other metropolitan cities. The RCC framework of the gopuram was done by engineering contractors, Learsen and Toubro Ltd. under the personal supervision of Ramachandran, a stapathi of Tamil Nadu.

According to the engineers and the chairman of the Prasanthi Nilayam Township Committee while the construction of the dome on the central tower was going on a little tremor was felt. As the top slab could not take the weight of the materials used for the kalasam the engineer asked the 60 and odd workers to come down and go out of the buildings. Added to this there were heavy rain, with thunder and lightning.

Two men and three women the professional architects and designers from the U.S. who had come to Prasanthi Nilayam as devotees offered to work on the sthupa erected in the middle of the shallow well on the ground floor. While they were busy giving finishing touches to the sthupa two of them ran to safety on hearing a loud cracking noise. Soon the kalasam collapsed breaking the reinforced concrete roof of the two floors, when two women and one youth were caught under the debris. Sri Satyasai Sevadal volunteers and other devotees rushed to the spot and made efforts to extricate the foreigners and cleared the debris.

Sri Satyasai Baba, during his darshan time on Friday, cautioned the devotees to be careful.
An American Embassy official rushed to Prasanthi Nilayam when he was informed of the tragedy. He got the clearance from the U.S. Government to dispose of the bodies of the two women at Prasanthi Nilayam. Mr. Ramarao said arrangements have been made for cremation of the bodies.
Mr. Michael Oliver (25), an American national belonging to San Francisco who sustained multiple fractures with internal heamorrhage died at a hospital in Bangalore on Saturday night.

The Anantapur Collector, Mr. B. Rama Rao has ordered a magisterial enquiry into the incident.