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35 dead, 50 injured in India building collapse

Rescue workers look for trapped people. Picture: AP

Rescue workers look for trapped people. Picture: AP

A half-finished building that was being constructed illegally in a suburb of India’s financial capital has collapsed, killing at least 35 people and injuring more than 50 others, police said on Friday.

At least 11 children were among those killed when the building in the Mumbai suburb of Thane caved in yesterday evening, police said. Rescue workers with bulldozers, sledgehammers, chainsaws and hydraulic jacks were struggling to break through the rubble in their search for possible survivors.

“There may be a possibility people have been trapped inside right now,” police commissioner KP Raghuvanshi said today.

More than 20 people remained missing and three floors of the building were still to be searched, said RS Rajesh, an official with the National Disaster Response Force who was at the scene.

“All the three floors are sandwiched ... so it’s is very difficult for us,” he said, adding that rescuers were continuing to pull survivors from the wreckage.

At least four floors of the building had been completed and were occupied. Workers had finished three more floors and were adding an eighth floor when it collapsed, police inspector Digamber Jangale said. Some of the dead were construction workers staying in the building as they worked on it, he added.

The building did not have the necessary clearances from local authorities, he said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the structure to collapse, but Mr Raghuvanshi said the building structure was weak. Police were searching for the builders to arrest them, he said.

“The inquiry is ongoing. We are all busy with the rescue operation; our priority now is to rescue as many as possible,” he said.

Police with rescue dogs were searching the building, which appeared to have buckled and collapsed upon itself. Rescuers and nearby residents stood on the remains of the roof trying to get to the people trapped inside. Mr Raghuvanshi said rescue workers had saved 15 people from the wreckage.

Building collapses are common in India as builders try to cut corners by using poor quality materials and multi-storeyed structures are built with inadequate supervision.

 
 
 

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