Up to 70 feared trapped in Mumbai building collapse

Up to 70 feared trapped in Mumbai building collapse
Firefighters and rescue workers are seen working at the site of the building collapse in Mumbai on September 27, 2013.

MUMBAI - A five-storey residential building collapsed in Mumbai at daybreak on Friday in the latest accident in India's financial capital, with up to 70 feared trapped inside.

Crowds formed around the rubble of the completely flattened block, owned by the city's civic administrative body the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, in the east of the city.

"My son is inside. I'm waiting for them to get him out," distraught 62-year-old retiree Mithi Solakani told AFP as rescue workers scrambled over tonnes of debris.

Several diggers were pressed into action to lift some of the larger slabs of concrete, allowing teams of rescuers to begin the grim task of taking out bodies.

One was removed covered in dark red cloth and carried to a waiting ambulance on a stretcher. Crowds of women waiting nearby could be heard sobbing.

Local people estimated between 40-60 people lived in the destroyed block, while the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said preliminary information indicated 22 families were housed there.

"We think up to 70 people are trapped," Alok Avasthy from the NDMA told AFP at the scene.

Local city administrator Manisha Mahiskar had earlier put the number of missing much lower, at around 20.

Seven people had been pulled out alive, she said.

Five other apartment blocks have collapsed in or close to Mumbai in recent months, including one in April that killed 74 people.

They have highlighted poor quality construction and violations of the building code, caused by massive demand for housing and endemic corruption.

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