Building collapse in Mumbai suburb kills at least 42

Updated: 2013-04-06 09:49

(China Daily/Agencies)

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A half-finished building that was being constructed illegally in a suburb of India's financial capital has collapsed, killing 42 people and injuring more than 50 others, police said on Friday.

It was not immediately clear what caused the structure to collapse but the building structure was weak, local police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi said on Friday.

Building collapse in Mumbai suburb kills at least 42

Indian rescue workers cut metal rods as they search for survivors in the debris of a collapsed building in Thane, on the outskirts of Mumbai, on Thursday. [Photo/Agencies]

Police were searching for the builders to arrest them.

"The inquiry is ongoing. We are all busy with the rescue operation. Our priority now is to rescue as many as possible," Raghuvanshi said.

The building in the Mumbai suburb of Thane caved in shortly after 6 pm on Thursday, police said. Rescue workers with sledgehammers, gasoline-powered saws and hydraulic jacks were struggling to break through the rubble in their search for possible survivors. Six bulldozers were brought to the scene.

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

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

Many of the victims were migrant laborers who had come to Mumbai to find work on building sites, typically earning as little as $2 to $4 a day. There were at least 11 children among the dead, police said.

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.

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

Muhammed Anwar, 36, witnessed the accident while his father-in-law, a carpenter, was working inside the building. "I saw the building collapse like a pack of cards," Anwar said.

Police with rescue dogs were searching the building on Friday. Rescuers and nearby residents stood on the remains of the roof trying to get to the people trapped inside. Residents carried the injured into ambulances and one man carried a small child, caked white with dust, from the wreckage.

Building collapses are common in India, where builders try to cut corners by using poor-quality materials. Multi-storied structures are built with inadequate supervision.

A local resident, who did not give his name, said the site was only meant to hold a smaller structure and said officials turned a blind eye to the problem.

"They made an 8-story building out of what was supposed to be a 4-story building. People from the municipality used to visit the building but the builder still continued to add floors," he said.