At least 21 people have died and several more were feared trapped after an old building due for demolition collapsed in India's financial hub of Mumbai on Thursday following torrential rains.
Rescuers were searching for survivors at the site of the collapsed five-storey building, believed to be about 100 years old, in the busy Bhendi Bazar market area.
"More bodies have been pulled out from under the debris, taking the toll to 21," Rashmi Lokhande, an officer at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation disaster control unit said by phone.
She said 13 more people were injured and were taken to nearby hospitals.
"The rescue work is in its final phase and will continue till late Thursday night. We estimate that about 10 to 12 people might still be trapped under the rubble," Lokhande added.
Local police, teams from the National Disaster Response Force and fire services officials were involved in the day-long operations.
Bhendi Bazar in southern Mumbai is a predominantly Muslim area that, like much of the city, is highly congested, packed with shops, restaurants, food stalls, precarious century-old buildings, tenement blocks and new developments for luxury apartments.
As rescuers struggled to remove the concrete slabs to reach survivors underneath, the desperate relatives of those trapped pleaded with officials to speed up operations.
"There was a massive bang. We couldn't see anything due to the dust and smoke. Once the dust settled, we realized it was a building collapse," Amina Sheikh, a local resident told broadcaster NDTV.
The building collapsed after Mumbai was lashed by its heaviest rains in 12 years on Tuesday, which killed at least 11 people.
Police and local agencies suspect that heavy rains could have weakened the building, leading to its collapse.
Local media reported that a larger tragedy was averted as the building housed a playschool, which was closed at the time of the collapse. Building collapses are common in Indian cities,
particularly during the monsoon season.
State chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters that the building was deemed unsafe by local authorities a couple of years ago.
"Residents should have [evacuated] the building as it was due for demolition in May 2016. We have ordered a probe and strict action will be taken against those guilty," he said.
There have been three building collapses in Mumbai over the past two months. In July, 17 people were killed when a four-storey building collapsed in the Ghatkopar suburb.
Local legislator Amin Patel told reporters that the building was over 100 years old and was on a list of 800 precarious structures listed as "dangerous" by civic agencies agencies.
Tuesday's rains in Mumbai brought the metropolis with 18mn inhabitants to a standstill as the city was placed on high alert after road, rail and air traffic were disrupted.
Seven coaches of a passenger train were derailed near Mumbai due to a landslide, but there were no injuries.
Thousands of people who were stuck overnight in offices or those who sought refuge elsewhere returned home on Wednesday after the rains eased.
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