Building collapse in India: death toll stands at 16

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BOMBAY | The human toll of the collapse of an apartment building in western India stood at 16 dead on Wednesday, rescuers excavating the last debris, but no longer expecting to find victims there.

A complex of 47 apartments collapsed Monday evening in the town of Mahad, located 120 kilometers south of Bombay. Rescue teams working in the rubble extracted a total of nine people alive, including a four-year-old child on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are in the last phases (of research) and do not think that there are still people stuck under the debris,” Shiv Kumar, spokesperson for the National Disaster Response Force, told AFP.

Authorities initially feared that up to 200 people would be buried, but revised their estimate downward to between 20 and 70, as many residents were away from the scene at the time of the collapse.

Residents in shock have reported complaining several times in the past to the builder about the condition of the building. Police have opened an investigation against him and four others in connection with the collapse.

The causes of the accident were not immediately established, but building collapses are common in India during the monsoon season which runs from June to September. Torrential rains undermine the foundations of buildings and weaken them.

The monsoon plays a vital role for life and agriculture in South Asia. But it also causes many deaths and large-scale destruction every year, including flooding, landslides and structural collapses.

In 2020, the monsoon has already claimed the lives of some 1,300 people in the subcontinent, including more than 800 in India alone.

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