MUMBAI, India — Rescuers pulled a small girl alive from a collapsed apartment building in India’s financial capital nearly 12 hours after the structure caved in today, killing at least eight people and leaving dozens trapped under the rubble.
A cheer erupted from hundreds of onlookers who began chanting “baby, baby” when rescuers working in a drizzling rain plucked the young girl out of a tunnel dug through the rubble. At least 32 people were rescued, but more than 30 others were still missing and the search continued, said Alok Awasthi, local commander of the National Disaster Response Force.
Today's disaster was the third deadly building collapse in six months in Mumbai, in a country where shoddy construction and lax inspections make such disasters all too common.
Relatives of the missing wailed and clung to one another, as heavy machinery lifted the largest slabs of concrete away. Dozens of workers hacked away with crowbars at the flattened remains of what was once a five-story building.
Eight people were confirmed dead by late afternoon, Awasthi said.
“We will work all night. We’ll work 24/7 without stopping until everyone is found,” he said, adding that additional rescue teams from the nearby city of Pune had been called in to assist.
The building collapsed just after 6 a.m. near Dockyard Road in Mumbai’s southeast.
Awasthi said it was owned by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corp., the city’s municipal government, and that most of the people who lived in its 22 apartments were city employees.
Mumbai has already seen two similar disasters this year.
At least 72 people died in April when an illegally constructed building fell down, and in June, at least 10 people, including five children, died when a three-story building collapsed.
Across India, buildings falling down have become relatively common. Massive demand for housing around India’s fast-growing cities combined with pervasive corruption often result in contractors cutting corners by using substandard materials or adding unauthorized floors.