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India building collapse toll climbs to 35, search and rescue efforts continue

Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 14:52 GMT+7
India building collapse toll climbs to 35, search and rescue efforts continue
Police officers watch rescue operations after a three-storey building collapsed in Bhiwandi, on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, September, 21 2020. Photo: Reuters

MUMBAI -- Rescue workers battled rain and cramped conditions to scour through rubble and look for possible survivors as the toll from an apartment building collapse on the outskirts of Mumbai rose to 35, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

“It’s been more than three days, so we don’t know if there are any survivors any more, but we are not losing hope,” Satya Pradhan, the head of the National Disaster Response Force, told Reuters.

At least eight people are still missing and rescue personnel are clearing debris to look for them, said Pradhan.

The building, a three-storey structure in a narrow alley of the industrial town of Bhiwandi, on the north-east outskirts of Mumbai, collapsed early on Monday.

Rescue work has been hampered by rain and a narrow entrance to the alley, which prevented heavy equipment from being brought in to clear debris.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the collapse of the structure that housed 54 apartments.

Such disasters are commonplace in India during the monsoon season, as the torrential rains can destabilise old and often illegally constructed buildings.

This week’s collapse however, is one of the worst such incidents in recent years around Mumbai.

Last month, more than a dozen people were killed when a building collapsed in the industrial town of Mahad, 165 km (100 miles) south of Mumbai.

In 2013, more than 120 people were killed in two separate building collapses around Mumbai.

Reuters

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