India building collapse toll climbs to 20, several still trapped

Officials say more bodies could be under the rubble of the building as rescue operation continues in Bhiwandi.

Local police said the building was more than 35 years old and needed repairs, but residents had not vacated the building [Imtiyaz Shaikh/Anadolu]
Local police said the building was more than 35 years old and needed repairs, but residents had not vacated the building [Imtiyaz Shaikh/Anadolu]

More bodies have been pulled from the debris of a collapsed building near India’s financial capital Mumbai, bringing the death toll to 20, according to police.

The three-storey residential building in the congested Bhiwandi area collapsed early on Monday while most residents were asleep. More than 60 people were estimated to be in the building at the time.

Emergency workers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have pulled 20 survivors – including two boys aged four and seven – from the rubble of the building in Bhiwandi, about 40km (25 miles) from Mumbai.

Rescue operations, aided by sniffer dogs, have been continuing with the help of the NDRF.

There were nine children among the dead, local police official Maloji Shinde said [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

NDRF Director General Satya Narayan Pradhan tweeted that he expected the toll to increase, with “more (bodies) likely under debris”.

There were nine children among the dead, local police official Maloji Shinde said.

Building not safe

Local police said the building was more than 35 years old and needed repairs but that the residents had not vacated the building despite being served notice to do so.

The accident in the city of Bhiwandi occurred at approximately 3:40am local time (22:10 GMT on Sunday), local authorities said.

Images shared on the NDRF’s official Twitter page on Monday showed emergency workers combing through concrete and brick rubble with electrical wires hanging over their heads.

Television showed a pile of rubble with rescuers climbing ladders to get to anyone still inside and deploying dogs to search for survivors.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on Twitter. “Praying for a quick recovery of those injured. Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being provided to the affected,” he wrote.

Last month, at least 13 people were killed after a five-storey building collapsed in Mahad, an industrial town about 165km (100 miles) south of Mumbai.

In 2017, National Crime Records Bureau data showed that more than 1,200 people were killed in building collapses nationwide.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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