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At least 11 dead as rescue efforts continue

At least 11 people, including eight children, have been killed after a residential building collapsed in the western Indian city of Mumbai.

Rescue efforts are under way as more people are feared trapped in the debris in the Malad area, officials say.

An investigation has been ordered but a minister said heavy rains could have caused the collapse on Wednesday night.

Building collapses are not uncommon in India, especially during the monsoon season.

Officials said they have evacuated other dilapidated buildings in the area as heavy rains are likely to continue in the coming days. The city has been put on high alert because the rains are also causing flooding in several areas.

Police said that 18 people were pulled from the debris but only seven of them survived. “Police will carry out a proper investigation and take further action,” senior officer Dilip Sawant told local media.

Eyewitnesses said the two-storey building collapsed onto smaller structures next to it.

“The incident took place around 10:15 pm. I came out after two persons asked us to leave the building.

As I was rushing out, I saw three buildings, including a dairy, were demolished near our building,” Mumbai Mirror newspaper quoted a local resident as saying.

Living on ‘collector’s land’

Mayank Bhagwat, BBC News Marathi

Malvani is a densely-populated neighbourhood in the Malad suburb of Mumbai.

It’s full of small houses and multi-storey buildings, many of them constructed illegally on government land, commonly known as collector’s land.

People have even constructed buildings as high as three or four floors using iron rods instead of pillars. So, they are prone to collapse during the monsoon.

And the narrow lanes mean they are likely to fall on other structures, making rescue operations more difficult.

Given that construction was allowed to happen all these years without the necessary permits, municipal and state officials now blame each other when it comes to holding someone accountable. This isn’t the first time a building in the area has collapsed, said a local resident who didn’t wish to be named. Last year, a three-storey structure crumbled, killing three people, he said.

Mohammed Safi was a resident of the building that fell on Wednesday night. He went to a nearby milk shop when the neighbours came to him and told him that his house had collapsed.

Mr Safi lost nine of his family members, including his wife and six children.

Maharashtra state minister Aslam Shaikh said that rescue efforts will continue to look for survivors who could still be trapped under the rubble.

“Buildings have collapsed due to rain. Rescue operation is under way. Injured people have been shifted to the hospital. Debris of the buildings is being removed to see if more people are stuck under it,” Mr Shaikh said.

Smaller incidents such as wall collapses have been reported from other parts of the city, but there have been no reports of injuries so far.

Weather experts say heavy rains will continue to lash the city over the next few days and low-lying areas will be at risk of flooding.

bbc

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