Published September 29, 2013
MUMBAI, India – The search for survivors at the site of a collapsed apartment building ended Sunday in India's financial capital of Mumbai with a final death toll of 60 people, an emergency response official said.
Rescuers managed to save 33 people from the building's wreckage in the two-day search. By Sunday morning, all 93 people listed as missing had been accounted for and the search was called off, said Alok Awasthi, local commander of the National Disaster Response Force.
The five-story building that collapsed Friday was the third deadly cave-in of a Mumbai structure in six months. The cause is under investigation.
High demand for housing around India's crowded cities combined with lax inspections often result in contractors cutting corners by using substandard materials or adding unauthorized floors.
On Saturday, emergency workers labored for six hours to free the last survivor, a 50-year-old man who was trapped for more than 30 hours with his leg crushed by part of a wall. Rescuers lifted up the slab of cement using a specialized compressed air-pressure bag, and the man was rushed to a hospital in the afternoon.
"We were able to save him, but he may lose his leg," Awasthi said.
The building, which housed workers for Mumbai's municipal government, was constructed in 1980, Awasthi said, adding they still did not know what caused it to fall down.
But local residents complained of substandard materials and corruption as the root causes of such disasters.
Some neighbors said they even feared about the safety of their own buildings.
"We can't know that tomorrow it won't be our turn," said Anupama Shivalkar, who lives in a nearby apartment block.
Two other buildings have fallen down in Mumbai this year.
In April, at least 72 people died when an illegally constructed building fell. Two months later, a three-story structure collapsed, killing at least 10 people, including five children.