At least 32 people were killed and more than 100, including women and children, were trapped under tonnes of debris after an unauthorised building collapsed in east Delhi's Laxmi Nagar area on Monday evening.
According to police, the four-storey building housed a number of factories, including a food-packaging unit and an embroidery workshop. Locals said at least 400 workers lived in the building although police claimed 250 lived there. Around 10 children are feared to be among the trapped as rescue operations went on till late in the night.
Dr Amit Banerjee, medical superintendent at Lok Nayak Hospital, said, "Till 10.45 pm, as many as 13 people were brought dead to the hospital. But the number can rise as the victims are being continuously brought."
Apart from unauthorised construction, flooding for nearly two months in the basement of the building was being seen as a major reason for the collapse. Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials said the water level had risen significantly this year due to floods in Yamuna. Areas such as Lalita Park are close to the river and are facing the brunt of seepage weakening the foundation of buildings.
Some 150 rescue workers from agencies such as the Delhi Fire Services, Delhi Disaster Management Authority and Delhi Police are all involved in the rescue operations. But they are all having a tough time as the building is in a narrow lane.
"We have sent 14 fire tenders to the spot. But it is difficult to reach the spot. We are carrying out the injured on stretchers," said a senior Delhi Fire Service official on condition of anonymity.
On Monday, a road in Lalita Park area, barely a kilometre from the site where the building collapsed, caved in, leaving an eight-feet-deep crater.