At Least 13 Dead After Mumbai Building Collapse; Dozens Feared Trapped

By: Posted By Jovarie Downing
By: Posted By Jovarie Downing

New Delhi (CNN) -- At least 13 people were killed and 26 more were injured when a five-story residential building collapsed in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai early Friday, a hospital spokesman said.

Dozens of people are feared to be trapped in the wreckage of the region's latest building disaster.

"It's a pancake collapse," said Sachidanand Gawde, deputy commandant at the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). "The exact number of those trapped under the debris is not known," he said.

Forty-four people had been pulled from the debris as of Friday, including the deceased, Gawde said.

One of the survivors is an 11-year-old girl who was heard shouting from inside the rubble that she was alive.

"There is a lot of chaos here, but my boys are closely monitoring any noises or movement from under the debris that can lead us to people trapped inside," Gawde said. "We are using latest rescue techniques so that maximum number of lives could be saved."

Around 40 people are feared to be buried in the rubble, CNN's sister network IBN reported, citing the disaster officials.

The building, an old construction in southern Mumbai, gave way around 6 a.m. Friday. Fire engines and ambulances rushed to the scene to carry out rescue efforts, Gawde said.

The first floor of the building was rented out to a decorating firm, but about 22 apartments were occupied on the upper four floors, said Sitaram Kunte, the commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Council, which owns the building.

A spokesman for the council said a notice was issued in April regarding major structural issues with the building.

It underwent renovations at that time, and further repairs were scheduled, spokesman Vijay Khabale Patil said.

The residents were made aware of the situation, but continued to live in the building, he said.

Several buildings in the Mumbai area have crumbled this year, one of them with disastrous consequences.
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In April, scores of people were killed in the collapse of an illegal multistory building in Thane, a city in the Mumbai region.

Deadly collapses have occurred in the city in past years, as well.

Housing rights groups say many old buildings in the city are rundown and neglected, while newer ones are often built using substandard materials and have structural problems.

People live in them because they don't have a choice -- in Mumbai, demand for housing far exceeds supply. About 65% of the population is estimated to live in slums, the groups say.


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