x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Mumbai building collapse toll rises to 72 as rescue effort ends

Government launches an investigation into the incident as a deputy municipal commissioner and a senior police officer are suspended for dereliction of duty.

MUMBAI // Rescue workers on Saturday finished a two-day search for survivors in the collapse of a residential building that was being constructed illegally. At least 72 people were killed in the accident, the worst building collapse in the country in recent decades.

Another 70 people were injured when the eight-story building on forest land in the Mumbai suburb of Thane caved in into a mound of steel and concrete on Thursday, police said. The dead included 17 children.

Thirty-six of the injured were still in hospital and the rest were discharged after medical treatment, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for the local municipality.

Rescue workers with sledgehammers, chainsaws and hydraulic jacks worked through Friday night to break through the tower of rubble in their search for survivors, the police officer Dahi Phale said. Six bulldozers were brought to the scene.

Twenty bodies were recovered overnight and the rescue work ended after 42 hours, Mr Malvi said.

Prithviraj Chavan, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, said that a government investigation had been ordered into the incident, and that a deputy municipal commissioner and a senior police officer had been suspended for dereliction of duty.

At the time of the collapse, between 100 and 150 people were in the building. Many were residents or construction workers who were living at the site as they worked on it.