Death Toll Expected to Rise
AT LEAST 45 PEOPLE HAVE DIED and more than 50 others were injured Thursday evening in Mumbai (Bombay), India, when a partially-occupied building collapsed around them.
The combination apartment and commercial structure had four stories completed and mostly occupied while work continued to raise it to eight stories. The construction crews were working on the eighth floor when it all suddenly gave way.
The building was being constructed illegally without any permits or oversight. It is also suspected that the builder was using sub-standard materials and techniques in order to save time and money on the job.
Rescue workers with sledgehammers, gasoline-powered saws and hydraulic jacks struggled Friday to break through the tower of rubble in their search for possible survivors. Six bulldozers were brought to the scene.
"There may be (a) possibility people have been trapped inside right now," local police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi said Friday.
At the time of the collapse, between 100 and 150 people were in the building. Many were residents or construction workers, who were living at the site as they worked on it, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for the (local) government.
More than 20 people remained missing Friday afternoon and three floors of the building remained to be searched, said R.S. Rajesh, an official with the National Disaster Response Force who was at the scene.
Building collapses are common in India as builders try to cut corners by using poor quality materials, and multi-storied structures are built with inadequate supervision. The massive demand for housing around India's cities and pervasive corruption allow builders to add unauthorized floors or build entirely illegal buildings.
The neighborhood where the building collapsed was part of a belt of more than 2,000 illegal structures that had sprung up in the area in recent years, said Malvi, the town spokesman.
BBC News tells us that witnesses say the construction of the building started just six weeks ago and in that time, seven floors were built rapidly and the eighth floor was under construction. Even though the construction was incomplete, the builder had allowed families to move in.
The Hindu is also reporting:
Alok Awasthi, Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which has been pressed into service to assist the local police and civic administration in rescue efforts, said 59 people had been pulled out alive but some more survivors could still be trapped under the debris.
Cranes were being used to remove the rubble, floor-by-floor, to trace the survivors with the help of life detector sensors which could pick up signals from possible survivors from 70 metre deep, he said.
State-of-the-art equipment fitted with thermal cameras were being inserted into the wreckage after making holes to locate survivors and extricate them with gas cutters, Awasthi said.
"The presence of large number of people and noise are hampering rescue efforts as it is difficult for the sensors to pick up signals of existing life under such a huge wreckage," said the NDRF Commandant, whose team of 90 men is working round-the-clock, at the scene of the incident.
For more details read the entire story in The Hindu HERE.
The police have registered a case of culpable homicide against the builder and the two owners. All of them have absconded and are being searched for.
This video report from NDTV does a good job of explaining the illegalities and corruptions associated with this building:
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