At least 100 people are feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western India’s Maharashtra state, a local legislator has said.
Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Raigad district’s Mahad town, about 165km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were at home when it crumbled in the evening, Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale told the Reuters news agency.
“I believe about 100 to 125 people must have been inside at the time of its collapse,” Gogawale, who was present at the site, told Reuters.
The building was comprised of 47 flats, police officials in Mahad said in a statement.
Rescue teams and canine squads were deployed to the scene of the accident, a statement from India’s National Disaster Response Force said.
Local authorities said more than two dozen people were pulled out by rescue teams and taken to hospital amid heavy monsoon rains.
“We apprehend that up to 70 people may be trapped under the debris,” regional police head Anil Paraskar had said earlier on Monday.
Television footage showed local residents and police officers combing through tin sheets and other wreckage in a desperate search for survivors.
Former Mahad legislator Manik Motiram Jagtap told the local TV9 Marathi channel that the structure was 10 years old and built on “weak” foundations.
“It fell like a house of cards,” he said. “It is a scary situation.”
The office of Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra state, said on Twitter that he had been in touch with local representatives in the area.
“He has assured them that all possible support will be extended for speedy rescue and relief works,” the tweet said.
The cause of the accident was not clear. But building collapses are common in India, usually due to shoddy construction, substandard materials and disregard of regulations.
More than 1,200 people were killed in 1,161 building collapses across India in 2017, according to latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Many of these accidents occur between June and September during the monsoon season, which plays a vital role in boosting agricultural harvests across South Asia.
But the monsoon season also causes widespread death and destruction, unleashing floods, triggering building collapses and inundating low-lying villages.
The death toll from monsoon-related disasters this year has topped 1,200, including more than 800 lives lost in India alone, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.