At least three people died and dozens were feared trapped when a building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai Thursday, after days of heavy rain swamped the city.
Rescuers using diggers could be seen sifting through the remains of the four-storey residential building which gave way around 08:40 am (0310 GMT) in the densely populated area of Bhendi Bazaar.
It was the latest deadly housing collapse to strike the teeming metropolis — shining a spotlight on poor construction standards in the Asian country — and came after heavy rains and inundations in the city killed 10 people.
A spokesman for the Mumbai civic authority’s disaster control team said three bodies had been pulled from the rubble.
“Three people are dead and thirteen injured have been rescued from the building collapse. Two firemen also have been injured during the rescue operations,” Tanaji Kamble, told AFP.
An official in the control room of India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said dozens more were thought to be trapped, he added.
“Forty people are believed to be stuck inside and a 43-member team is conducting rescue operations,” the official told AFP.
He said eight or nine families were thought to have been living in the building.
Building collapses are common in Mumbai, especially during the monsoon season from late June to September, when heavy rains lash the western Indian city.
Severe downpours began on Tuesday and caused flooding across Mumbai and the neighbouring region of Thane.
The collapse came as officials said the death toll from the floods was expected to rise above 10, despite the waters receding after better weather.
“We are still on the lookout for more missing persons and the number may go up,” Santosh Kadam, spokesman for disaster control in Thane, told AFP.
Bhendi Bazaar, a scruffy colonial-era market, is one of Mumbai’s most historic districts.
It is currently undergoing a six-hundred-million-dollar redevelopment project that is set to replace hundreds of ramshackle, decades-old low-rise buildings with around a dozen glitzy new tower blocks.
Mumbai has been hit by several deadly building collapses in recent years, often caused by shoddy construction, poor quality materials or ageing buildings.
The city is particularly vulnerable to deadly collapse with millions forced to live in cramped, ramshackle properties because of rising real estate prices and a lack of housing for the poor.
Activists say housing societies, private owners and builders often cut corners to save on costs. They also claim that corruption plays a part with officials sometimes knowingly certifying dilapidated buildings in return for money.
In July, 17 people including a three-month-old baby, died when a four-storey building gave way in the northern suburb of Ghatkopar.
In 2013, 60 people were killed when a residential block came crashing down in one of Mumbai’s worst housing disasters.