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50 confirmed dead in Mumbai building collapse

By Neha Sharma, Sumnima Udas and Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 1:04 PM EDT, Sat September 28, 2013
  • A council urged residents to vacate the building months ago
  • It was rickety and dangerous, a notice warned
  • The old residential building in southern Mumbai gave way early Friday
  • Around 22 apartments were occupied on the building's upper floors, the owner says

New Delhi (CNN) -- The number of confirmed dead keeps rising in a Mumbai, India, building-collapse -- a tragedy that may have never happened if the warnings had been heeded months ago.

A council had warned that the five-story building was rickety. It was visibly dilapidated and worn. Vacate it, they advised in a notice in April.

But when it pancaked down into rubble and dust on Friday, over 100 people may have still been inside. Fifty people are confirmed dead and 33 are so far known to have survived the collapse, officials said. Officials had previously said 60 people were injured in the collapse.

Another dozen or more people may still be buried -- either dead or alive -- under the mounds of brick and concrete and the rescue operation continues, officials said.

Now sniffer dogs and rescuers offer the only way out.

They were able to pull an 11-year-old girl from the debris, when she cried out to them that she was alive.

Rescue personnel "are closely monitoring any noises or movement from under the debris that can lead us to people trapped inside," said Sachidanand Gawde, deputy commandant at the National Disaster Response Force.

A rescue worker rests at the site of a collapsed building in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, September 28. The five-story building collapsed Friday, September 27, killing 66. Authorities believe a central wall and support beams were removed without permission, causing the collapse. A rescue worker rests at the site of a collapsed building in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, September 28. The five-story building collapsed Friday, September 27, killing 66. Authorities believe a central wall and support beams were removed without permission, causing the collapse.
Mumbai building collapses
Mumbai building collapses Mumbai building collapses

But they haven't heard a sound from beneath their feet since midday Saturday.

The rescuers are digging with their hands, as heavy machinery stands aside out of fear it could crush pockets in the rubble where survivors may be clinging to life.

The residents of the collapsed building may have stayed, because they had no place else to go. They likely did not want to let go of the roof over their heads in a city where demand for housing far exceeds supply.

Living space is expensive in Mumbai, India's financial hub. Many residents of the makeshift building were poor, unskilled workers for the Bombay Municipal Corporation, which ironically, had issued a notice that the building had gone bad.

Repairs followed the warnings, and there were plans for future repairs, a spokesman for Brihanmumbai Municipal Council, which owns the building, said.

The rubble and lost lives have put an end to those plans.

Several buildings in the Mumbai area have crumbled this year, one of them with disastrous consequences.

Mumbai takes on dangerous buildings

In April, scores of people were killed in the collapse of a multistory building in Thane, a city in the Mumbai region.

Deadly collapses have occurred in the city in past years, as well.

Housing rights groups say many old buildings in the city are rundown and neglected, while newer ones are often built illegally, using substandard materials and have structural defects.

CNN's Lonzo Cook in New Delhi and Gena Somra contributed to this report.

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