10 dead in Mumbai building collapse

Monsoon rains put pressure on poor building standards

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The Independent Online

At least 10 people have been killed, including five children, after a three-story building collapsed in a crowded district of India's financial capital Mumbai.

The building, described by authorities as "old" having been constructed in 1979, came crashing down while most of its residents were asleep early on Friday morning.

Sensors were used to rescue 20 people from the debris in the Thane district, and nine people were taken to hospital. Police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi said their injuries were not life-threatening.

Though the cause of the collapse has not been confirmed, heavy monsoon rains since the beginning of June have increased the likelihood of such incidents. Substandard building materials, lax regulation and the massive demand for housing mean they have become a worryingly regular occurrence.

Ten days ago a similar collapse in Mumbai also killed 10 people. In April an eight-story building caved in, killing 74 in the country's worst disaster of this kind in decades. That was also in Thane, and afterwards police arrested nine people involved in its illegal construction.

Corruption is also seen as a major factor leading to these tragedies. Among those arrested in Thane were police officers and officials from the municipal corporation.

South Asian building standards received international attention in April when the collapse of a clothes factory building killed 1,129 people in Bangladesh, one of the world's worst ever industrial accidents.