Rescue workers pulled more than 60 people alive from the rubble of a collapsed building in an industrial town near India’s financial capital Mumbai, a senior official told Reuters on Tuesday, as rescue efforts continued.
The five storey building in western Maharashtra state’s Raigad district, which housed roughly 200 residents, caved in on Monday evening.
“One resident was dead and at least 30 were still trapped,” said Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale, a local lawmaker in Mahad town situated about 165 km (100 miles) south of Mumbai.
The building was comprised of 47 flats, police officials in Mahad said in a statement.
Local residents and police combed through tin sheets, metal rods and other wreckage in a desperate search for survivors as ambulances ferried victims to nearby hospitals amid heavy monsoon rains and fears of COVID-19 infections.
NDRF rescue teams and canine squads were deployed to the scene of the accident.
Former Mahad legislator Manik Motiram Jagtap told the local TV9 Marathi channel that the structure was 10 years old and built on “weak” foundations.
“It fell like a house of cards,” he said. “It is a scary situation.”
The office of Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra state, said on Twitter that he had been in touch with local representatives in the area.
“He has assured them that all possible support will be extended for speedy rescue and relief works,” the tweet said.
The cause of the accident was not clear. But building collapses are common in India, usually due to shoddy construction, substandard materials and disregard of regulations.
More than 1,200 people were killed in 1,161 building collapses across India in 2017, according to latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Many of these accidents occur between June and September during the monsoon season, which plays a vital role in boosting agricultural harvests across South Asia.
But the monsoon season also causes widespread death and destruction, unleashing floods, triggering building collapses and inundating low-lying villages.
The death toll from monsoon-related disasters this year has topped 1,200, including more than 800 lives lost in India alone, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.