One resident has been killed and more than 60 people have been pulled from the rubble after a five-storey apartment building collapsed near a slum district in Mahad.

Rescue workers look for survivors after a residential building collapsed in Mahad, India on August 24, 2020.
Rescue workers look for survivors after a residential building collapsed in Mahad, India on August 24, 2020. (AP)

Rescue workers pull more than 60 people alive from the rubble of a collapsed building in an industrial town near India's financial capital Mumbai as rescue efforts continue.

The five storey building near a slum district in Mahad, which housed roughly 200 residents, caved in on Monday evening.

"One resident was dead and at least 30 were still trapped," said Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale, a local lawmaker in Mahad situated about 165 km (100 miles) south of Mumbai.

The building, which comprised of 47 flats, fell almost like a pack of cards, said a police official at the disaster site.

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.

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

READ MORE: Death toll in Mumbai building collapse climbs to 17

A man removes the debris after a five-storey building collapsed in Raigad in the western state of Maharashtra, India, August 24, 2020.
A man removes the debris after a five-storey building collapsed in Raigad in the western state of Maharashtra, India, August 24, 2020. (Reuters)

'Praying for everyone's safety'

Three rescue teams with specialised equipment and sniffer dogs have been deployed to the scene, a statement from India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said, with Home Minister Amit Shah tweeting that he was "praying for everyone's safety".

"Fifteen injured people have been rescued and taken to hospital," the police said in a statement.

Local residents and police combed through tin sheets, metal rods and other wreckage in a desperate search for survivors as ambulances ferried victims to nearby hospitals.

Mahad legislator Bharat Gogawale told the local TV9 Marathi channel that early estimates seemed to suggest that "over 200 people are stuck inside".

"Our primary goal is to rescue as many people as possible who are trapped under the debris," Gogawale said.

An unnamed official with the Maharashtra state Disaster Management Unit later told the Press Trust of India that 51 people were missing.

Some 70 people fled to safety when the building began to buckle, Nidhi Choudhari, an official in the district where Mahad is located, told PTI.

"We also came to know that many families are not residing in the building as they went to their native places due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown", Choudhari told PTI.

Rescue workers look for survivors after a residential building collapsed in Mahad, about 170 kilometres from India's financial capital of Mumbai, Monday, August 24, 2020.
Rescue workers look for survivors after a residential building collapsed in Mahad, about 170 kilometres from India's financial capital of Mumbai, Monday, August 24, 2020. (AP)

'Scary situation' 

Local politician Manik Motiram Jagtap told TV9 Marathi that the structure was 10 years old and built on "weak" foundations.

"It fell like a house of cards," Jagtap said.

"It is a scary situation."

As night fell, emergency workers used cranes to try and remove the rubble as relatives anxiously waited for news of their loved ones.

The office of Uddhav Thackeray, the state's chief minister, said on Twitter that he had been in touch with local representatives in the area.

"He has assured them that all possible support will be extended for speedy rescue and relief works," the tweet said.

The monsoon plays a vital role in boosting agricultural harvests across South Asia. But it also causes widespread death and destruction, unleashing floods, triggering building collapses and inundating low-lying villages.

The death toll from monsoon-related disasters this year has topped 1,200, including more than 800 lives lost in India alone.

The accident brings yet more bad news for Maharashtra, which has already been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with the state accounting for over a fifth of India's more than three million infections.

The pandemic has also cast a shadow on the ongoing Ganesha Chaturthi festival, with Hindu devotees ordered to sharply scale down celebrations and rituals honouring the much-loved elephant god in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies