MUMBAI (AFP) - An apartment block collapsed in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai on Friday, killing six people and injuring three others in the latest of a series of deadly building cave-ins, the authorities said.
Dozens of rescuers scoured the site in search of anyone trapped under the wreckage of the building, located in a densely populated area of the city and surrounded by other structures which were hit with debris.
"There have been six deaths, of which we can confirm two are women. Three persons have also been injured," a municipal official told AFP, asking not to be named.
Rescuers were using heavy equipment to comb through the collapsed building to see if there were other victims, he said. "We do not yet know the exact number of people who might be trapped," he said.
One official from India's emergency response agency said however that he believed the toll of dead and injured would not increase significantly.
"Information indicates two families were caught in the collapse. So we are hoping the numbers will not rise sharply from here," Commandant Alok Avasthy of the National Disaster Response Force told AFP.
"Two teams from National Disaster Response Force, amounting to 65 personnel, are on the spot and will continue the operation til we are sure everything is clear," he said.
Police initially thought no one was in the building as it had been cleared of tenants after being declared uninhabitable by municipal authorities who had served a demolition notice.
But in teeming Mumbai, where housing is in huge demand and extremely costly, the demolition order had been challenged by the tenants, local residents told news channel NDTV.
"This tragedy could have been avoided. We need laws that give more powers to the municipal corporation for acting in time against such structures," Mumbai Mayor Sunil Prabhu told NDTV.
Last September, a rundown residential block in Mumbai collapsed, killing 60 people. Another building collapse on the outskirts of the city in April last year killed 74.
Some of the tragedies have underlined shoddy construction standards and lax building code enforcement.