Rescue workers in the city of Mumbai have pulled a baby alive from the rubble of a residential building that had collapsed 12 hours earlier. The effort to rescue dozens of other trapped people is still continuing.
The five-storey building in the Dockyard Road area of the city’s south-east had collapsed at around 6am on Friday morning. At least four people are known to have been killed.
On Friday afternoon, rescue workers managed to bring out the infant from the rubble – the 25th person to be rescued alive. The act was met with a loud cheer from onlookers who had gathered at the site of the disaster.
The Associated Press reported that officials from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai feared that dozens of people were still trapped in the building. There are concerns the death toll could yet leap.
Rescue workers used six cranes to remove debris as they pulled many people from the ruins. The building was believed to have been about 35 years old and home to 20 extended families.
In April, a building collapse killed 72 people in Thane, just outside Mumbai. Officials later said the structure had been built using poor materials and did not have proper safety approvals.
Across many Indian cities, a shortage of cheap homes has led to a rise in illegal construction by developers who use substandard materials and shoddy methods and then offer rock-bottom rents to low-paid workers.
A sharp rise in property prices in densely populated Mumbai over the past five years has put affordable housing out of reach of tens of thousands of people, many of them migrants who move to the city for work. Around half of the city’s population of 20 million live in shanty homes.
At Dockyard Road, relatives of the missing cried and held onto one another as the heavy machinery lifted away the heaviest slabs of concrete. Dozens of rescue workers hacked away with crowbars.
Alok Awasthi, local commander of the so-called National Disaster Response Force, said: “Approximately 80 to 90 people are believed to be left behind in the building and trapped.”
Mr Awasthi said the building was owned by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corp, the city’s municipal government, and that most of the people who lived in its 22 apartments were local government employees.
In addition to those killed in April in Thane, in June, at least 10 people, including five children, died when a three-storey building collapsed in the city.