Authorities on Saturday called off a search for more survivors from the collapse of a multi-storey building in Thane that killed 72 people, saying there was no hope of finding anybody else alive. Meanwhile, builders Jameel Qureshi and Saleem Shaikh were today arrested by the police. One of the builders was arrested from UP while the other from Thane, according to media reports.
Rescue workers use a stretcher to carry the body of a victim across the rubble after the collapse of a building in Thane, Mumbai. (Reuters)
The death toll from the cave-in of the unauthorised seven-storey building was one of the worst in recent years in India. The collapse highlighted widespread shoddy building standards in the country where there is huge demand for housing.
"Rescue work is now over since there is no hope of finding any more survivors," Sandeep Malvi, Thane municipal corporation spokesman, told AFP.
"The death toll is now 72. About are 36 injured and are undergoing treatment. At least 126 people have been rescued," he added.
Most of the victims were poor daily wage earners working at the construction site and their families who were living in the completed floors.
Rescue efforts continued on Saturday morning with bulldozers clearing debris from the site in Thane district, 35 kilometres (20 miles) from central Mumbai, but were abandoned later in the day as hope faded for finding survivors.
The Maharashtra state government has announced a probe into the incident and suspended a top civic administrator and a police officer for dereliction of duty, local media reported.
Earlier today, rescue workers using cranes and bulldozers searched through the wreck of twisted steel and concrete after the seven-storey building collapsed "like a pack of cards" on Thursday evening, officials and witnesses said.
"The building collapsed like a pack of cards within three to four seconds," said Ramlal, a local resident. "It just tilted a bit and collapsed," he said. Residents said labourers paying rent of around $5 a day had lived in the building.
The building, which was in a forested area in the city of Thane, had been made using poor materials and without proper approvals, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for licensing authority the Thane Municipal Corporation.
The woman dragged from the building on Saturday was found after workers heard her voice and used camera eqiupment to pinpoint her location under the rubble. A 10-month old infant was pulled from the debris on Friday.
The seriously injured were shifted to JJ and Sion Hospitals in Mumbai. A 65-year-old woman, identified as Kutibi Shaikh, was rescued after being trapped for almost 30 hours, according to reports.
The Deputy Municipal Commissioner of the area has been suspended following the collapse, which the state chief minister said was due to the building being built illegally, local media reported.
(with PTI + Reuters + Agencies inputs)