MUREE, Pakistan – An earthquake-damaged apartment bloc collapsed in a mountain resort near Pakistan's capital Thursday, killing the building's owner, his wife and their son, officials said. Rescuers retrieved one female survivor from the rubble, but several others are feared trapped.
The seven-story building, which had been previously ordered to be demolished, collapsed in a pile of bricks, concrete and twisted corrugated roofing iron in downtown Muree at 3 a.m., said Javed Ikhlas, mayor of Rawalpindi district, which includes Muree.
Rescuers recovered the dead bodies of the building's owner, Abbasi Aurangzeb, and his son Nadeem, 27, said Zaheerul Hassan, a doctor at an army hospital where the pair were taken.
Aurangzeb's wife was also killed in the collapse and her body retrieved, said Nadim Zafar, a rescue worker with a relief agency helping at the site.
At least one other person was spotted trapped underneath debris, but it was unclear if that person was alive, Hassan said.
The building owner's daughter, Zahida, was pulled out alive and in stable condition after guiding rescuers by mobile phone to where she was trapped, said Ikhlas.
"It felt like an earthquake jolt and then things started falling," Zahida told reporters later from her military hospital bed. "I don't know what happened at the time and why the building collapsed."
The woman said she and her family were living in one of the building's upper floors when it collapsed.
Neighbors believed a family of four and a security guard may have been on a lower floor of the building and trapped in the collapse, said Muree Mayor Salim Khan.
Scores of soldiers and emergency workers removed rubble from the scene, which some officials have said could take more than a day to clear.
Ikhlas said the building, built in 2003, had suffered structural damage in Pakistan's devastating magnitude 7.6 earthquake on Oct. 8 that killed more than 80,000 people and left more than 3 million homeless.
"After the earthquake the building was declared dangerous because it had cracks running through it and the town's administrator issued three notices to the owner to demolish it, but he did nothing about it," Ikhlas told The Associated Press.
The building housed apartments the owner rented to visitors in the summertime, Ikhlas said. He stopped renting the apartments after the quake, but his family continued to live in the building.
Ikhlas said several other high buildings next to the one that collapsed had prevented the owner from being able to demolish it.
Building collapses, resulting from shoddy construction, earthquakes or heavy rain, are not uncommon in Pakistan.