Rescuers on Tuesday extracted a still living four-year-old boy from the rubble of a collapsed apartment building the day before in western India, in a tragedy in which thirteen people died while up to 60 are still buried.
Crowds at the scene in Mahad town cheered as the child appeared on the surface and was then carried on a stretcher, can be seen on video.
At the end of the day, thirteen lifeless bodies had been found in what remains of this building of 47 apartments, Sachidanand Gawde, spokesperson for the National Disaster Response Force, told reporters.
Dozens of other people are still stuck under the rubble, but “no one knows exactly how many are currently trapped inside”, for his part told AFP on condition of anonymity an official of Mahad Police, located 120 kilometers south of Bombay.
Authorities initially feared that up to 200 people would be buried but revised their assessment downward as many residents were out of their homes at the time of the collapse.
The accident happened on Monday around 7:00 p.m. (13:30 GMT), when some had gone out shopping.
And many have fled the city to return to their hometowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rescue teams, including dog teams, were hard at work in the middle of the heap of sheets, metals and bricks.
“Three members of my family are stuck under the rubble – my mother, my sister and my nephew,” Gazala, a doctor who refused to disclose her last name, told AFP.
Mustafa Chafekar, a resident in quarantine because positive for COVID-19, and his relatives initially believed in an earthquake and rushed out.
“We immediately started running (…) Everything collapsed before our eyes,” the 39-year-old man told the Mumbai Mirror newspaper. According to him, residents had complained about the condition of the building to its builders.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “saddened”.
The causes of the crash were not yet 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 large-scale destruction and flooding every year.
In 2020, the monsoon has already claimed the lives of some 1,300 people in the subcontinent, including more than 800 in India alone.