At least 100 people are feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western Indian, a lawmaker said.
Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Mahad, about 165 km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were at home when it crumbled in the evening, Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale, the local lawmaker, told Reuters.
“I believe about 100 to 125 people must have been inside at the time of its collapse,” Gogawale, who was present at the site, told Reuters.
The building comprised around 47 flats, according to the police department of western Maharashtra state. Authorities have yet to ascertain the cause of the collapse and the number of casualties, but about 30 people were pulled out by rescue teams and local residents.
TV channels showed footage of the debris with locals and police trying to reach the trapped people. The TV footage also showed at least one ambulance leaving the area as people surrounding it made frantic phone calls.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has assured the local administration of all possible support for speedy rescue and relief work, his office said on Twitter.
Three teams from the National Disaster Response Force have been moved to the site, the NDRF said in a statement. Old creaky structures and illegal constructions in India often lead to collapses, typically during torrential rain.
More than 1,200 people were killed in 1,161 building collapses across India in 2017, according to latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
‘Scary situation’ Local politician Manik Motiram Jagtap told the channel that the structure was 10 years old and built on “weak” foundations.
“It fell like a house of cards,” Jagtap said. “It is a scary situation.” As night fell, emergency workers used cranes to try and remove the rubble as relatives anxiously waited for news of their loved ones.
The office of Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra state, where Mahad is located, said on Twitter that he had been in touch with local representatives in the area.
“He has assured them that all possible support will be extended for speedy rescue and relief works,” the tweet said.
The monsoon plays a vital role in boosting agricultural harvests across South Asia. But it also causes widespread death and destruction, unleashing floods, triggering building collapses and inundating low-lying villages.
The death toll from monsoon-related disasters this year has topped 1,200, including more than 800 lives lost in India alone.
The accident brings yet more bad news for Maharashtra, which has already been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with the state accounting for over a fifth of India’s more than three million infections.
The pandemic has also cast a shadow on the ongoing Ganesha Chaturthi festival, with Hindu devotees ordered to sharply scale down celebrations and rituals honouring the much-loved elephant god in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.—AFP