MUMBAI: At least six people were crushed to death when a four-storey building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai yesterday, the latest incident to highlight poor construction standards in the country. Rescuers pulled a dozen others out of the rubble alive, some seriously injured, after the structure gave way mid-morning in the northern suburb of Ghatkopar, officials said.
“The death toll is now six. We think around 15 may still be trapped and rescue operations are ongoing,” Tanaji Kamble, a disaster management spokesman for Mumbai’s civic administrative body, told AFP. Building collapses are common in India, especially during the annual monsoon season which usually runs from late June to September.
In a separate incident yesterday, a building partially collapsed in Kolkata in India’s east after days of monsoonal rain. Several people were trapped in the rubble, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. “Firefighters are trying to rescue the people trapped under the debris,” said G P Ghosh, director of fire services in West Bengal state. Mumbai is particularly susceptible with millions forced to live in cramped, ramshackle properties because of rising real estate prices and a lack of housing for the poor.
The city has been hit by several deadly building collapses in recent years, often caused by shoddy construction, poor quality materials or ageing buildings. In 2013, 60 people were killed when a residential block came crashing down in one of Mumbai’s worst housing disasters. A dilapidated building left 12 people dead when it collapsed near the city in August 2015. Nine people died the same month when another old three-storey building collapsed in monsoon rain in the Mumbai suburb of Thakurli.
8 dead in worsening floods
Meanwhile worsening floods killed another eight people in 24 hours in India’s Gujarat state as rescue teams raced yesterday to reach hundreds of people marooned in stricken towns and villages. With scores now dead in monsoon floods across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to fly over Gujarat later yesterday to inspect the devastation, officials said.
More than 36,000 people have been moved to safe areas and helicopters and boats were used to rescue the worst-hit. Torrential rain and the release of water from dams in neighboring Rajasthan state created havoc in northern Gujarat, a government statement said. Army and air force helicopter rescue teams picked up more than 1,000 people from villages in the state cut off by rising water levels, it added.
About 80 people are believed to have been killed in Gujarat since the start of the monsoon a month ago, and scores elsewhere in the country. Gujarat’s main city Ahmedabad has had more than 50 centimeters of rain in four days, twice the average for July. Downpours have wreaked havoc in several parts of the country.
Apart from Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam states in India’s northeast have been hard-hit, while pockets of the eastern states of Odisha and Bihar have also been affected. In Assam at least 75 people have been killed and a state-wide emergency relief operation has been underway since April. Tens of thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed. Thirteen people were killed in flash floods in Jammu and Kashmir at the weekend. – Agencies