Death toll in India building collapse rises to 35

Police officers watch rescue operations after a three-storey building collapsed in Bhiwandi, India, on Sept, 21 2020.
Police officers watch rescue operations after a three-storey building collapsed in Bhiwandi, India, on Sept, 21 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI (XINHUA) - The death toll from a residential building collapse at Bhiwandi, 38km west of Mumbai, rose to 35 as rescue operations continued on Wednesday (Sept 23), 52 hours after the tragedy.

The casualties included 12 children, while 25 people with multiple injuries were admitted to hospital after the three-storey building collapsed early on Monday when the residents were asleep.

As the debris was being cleared from the structure that housed 40 flats, with around 150 residents, the police booked the owner of the collapsed building for culpable homicide, claiming "neither did he take efforts to repair the building's broken pillar, nor did he convince people to vacate the building".

Two officials were also suspended in connection with the incident, the spokesperson for the civic body said.

The monsoon season during June-September, which brings torrential rains, is often blamed for the collapse of dilapidated and illegally built buildings in India.

Last month, over a dozen people died after a building collapsed in the industrial town of Mahad, 165km south of Mumbai.

Most of the residents of the ill-fated building were autorickshaw drivers, vendors or labourers, who stayed at a monthly rent of US$40.8-54.4 (S$55.75 to S$74.33).

Bhiwandi, a textile hub with the largest power looms in Asia's third-largest economy, has turned into a logistics hub, with e-commerce companies setting up warehouses to cater to Mumbai's consumer demand.

 

"There was a power loom at the ground floor of the building where some workers were believed to have been asleep when the building caved in," said Mr Milind Palsule, public relations officer of the local civic body.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have offered their condolences over the incident.

According to India's National Crime Records Bureau, 38,363 people lost their lives due to the collapse of various structures between 2001-2015, most of which were due to the collapse of residential houses.