Thane, Maharashtra, (PTI):
The death toll in the under-construction building collapse in Shil Phata area of the district has risen to 30 as rescuers recovered more bodies from the site Friday morning, Thane police control room said.
As rescuers combed the rubble for survivors, two toddlers were pulled out alive to cries of “God is great” and cheers and clapping, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
The seven-storey building collapsed on Thursday evening, creating a mangled heap of steel and concrete of about 8 metres (26 feet) high that rescuers and local residents struggled to cut through.
Rescue efforts continued through the night, with diggers and steel cutters employed to reach victims who were carried away on makeshift stretchers. Limbs protruded from the wreckage in a grisly scene.
While 69 people were injured, rescuers fear that some victims are still trapped under debris, they said. The deceased included 12 men, some of whom were construction workers, ten children and eight women. A pregnant woman, identified as Shakila Imran Siddiqui, was among the deceased, Thane civic officials said. The remaining bodies are yet to be identified.
The Daighar police have registered a case against builders Salil and Khalil Jamadar under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC, police said, adding that efforts were on to trace them.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar are likely to visit the site today.
The seven-storey illegal under-construction structure, located in Shil Phata area between Mumbra and Dombivli townships, collapsed at around 6:30 pm on Thursday.
The injured have been admitted to various hospitals in Thane and some have been shifted to Mumbai’s JJ and Sion Hospitals for better treatment, police said.
Relief and rescue operations are being carried out under the supervision of Civic Commissioner R A Rajeev and District Collector P Velarasu.
MNS legislator from Kalyan township of Thane, Ramesh Patil alleged that he had complained to the municipal commissioner the week before that the building was unauthorised and unfit for occupation, but no action was taken.
Civic officials had on Thursday said the building in Shil Phata area in Daighar village was unauthorised. They claimed that it was built on forest land and occupied at least up to the fourth floor. There were around 35 families residing in the building, they added.
(with AFP inputs)