Anxious families call for relatives in rubble of collapsed Indian building

Rescue workers remove the debris as they look for survivors after a five-storey building collapsed in Mahad in Raigad district in Maharashtra on August 24, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)
Rescue workers remove the debris as they look for survivors after a five-storey building collapsed in Mahad in Raigad district in Maharashtra on August 24, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

MAHAD, August 25 (Reuters): Distressed families shouted names of relatives trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in western India on Tuesday, hoping to receive a response as rescue workers accelerated efforts to pull out dozens of survivors.

At least two people were killed and 18 injured when a five storey building collapsed in Mahad, an industrial town near India's financial capital Mumbai on Monday.

More than 90 people were trapped under the debris, with 60 now being rescued.

The building, which comprised of 47 flats, fell almost like a pack of cards, said a police official at the disaster site, adding that legal action was initiated against the builder.

Local residents and police combed through tin sheets, metal rods and other wreckage in a desperate search for survivors as ambulances rushed injured to nearby hospitals amid heavy monsoon rains and fears of Covid-19 infections.

Shabana Lora, a female survivor who stood at the disaster site with her family, said she managed to run out of the building with her three daughters when it started shaking.

"We had just fled a few metres from the building and we heard loud noise. Then there was smoke everywhere, the building was collapsed in a few seconds after we ran out," she said.

Other survivors said at least 18 people were yet to be found below the concrete and brick rubble of the residential building that housed roughly 200 residents of Mahad situated about 165 km (100 miles) south of Mumbai.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday in a tweet said he was saddened by the incident and prayed the injured to recover.

The cause of the accident was not clear, but building collapses are common in India, usually due to shoddy construction, substandard materials and a disregard of regulations.

Every year, heavy downpours bring down rain-sodden small and large structures deemed too dangerous to live in.

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.