At least 20 people have died with many still buried under the debris of a three-storey building that collapsed in Bhiwandi town in the outskirts of Mumbai.
Rescue workers and sniffer dogs are scouring the ruins of a collapsed apartment building looking for any sign of life, as the death toll climbed to 20 a day after disaster struck in Bhiwandi town on the northeast outskirts of Mumbai.
There were no reliable estimates of the number of people who were still missing after the three-storey building came down just before dawn on Monday.
Many of the people in the 54 flats would either have been getting up for work or school or still in their beds when the building collapsed.
Satya Pradhan, the head of the National Disaster Response Force, tweeted an update on the search and rescue effort in a series of grim bullet points:
"20 dead extracted
20 rescued alive
#BhiwandiBuildingCollapse update8— ѕαtчα prαdhαnसत्य नारायण प्रधान ସତ୍ଯପ୍ରଧାନ-DG NDRF (@satyaprad1) September 22, 2020
🔶@NDRFHQ on site
🔶40 persons a/cted for
🔶20 dead extracted
🔶20 rescued live
🔶Loose hanging slabs/debris
🔶Team @5Ndrf committed
🔶to complete ops @PMOIndia @HMOIndia @PIBHomeAffairs @PIBMumbai @ANI pic.twitter.com/tA2b4X9V2P
The rescue work is taking place under difficult and risky conditions, according to Pradhan.
Emergency service workers were removing debris by hand or using digging equipment, but the building was located in a cramped alley, making it hard to bring in heavy lifting equipment.
They were also contending with the risk of falling masonry, as loose slabs hung from those walls and ceilings still left standing.
It was unclear why the building collapsed, but such disasters are commonplace in India during the monsoon season, as the torrential rains can destabilise old and often illegally constructed buildings.
Last month, more than a dozen people were killed when a building collapsed in the industrial town of Mahad, 165 kilometres south of Mumbai.