Death toll rises to 17 as building owner detained by police
'People were screaming, running around,' police inspector tells CNN
At least 17 people have been killed after a five-story building collapsed in a suburb of the Indian metropolis of Mumbai on Tuesday morning, local authorities said.
Fourteen people were rescued from the rubble, senior police inspector Vilas Mahadev Jadhav told CNN. A search for more survivors had been called off by Wednesday evening, chief fire officer P.S. Rahangdale said.
The building’s owner was detained by police on Tuesday, accused of endangering life and causing grievous hurt. A court ruled that the owner could be held in police custody until at least August 2.
“It appears that the accused had been carrying out illegal renovation in the building,” Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of Mumbai police, told CNN.
Video from the site showed a chaotic scene, with dozens of bystanders nearby and first responders trying to dig through what remained of the building in the working-class neighborhood of Ghatkopar.
“It was very chaotic this morning. People were screaming, running around. The locals claim they saw the building shake for a moment before it collapsed. They are shaken by this incident,” S. Gandote, a local police inspector, told CNN.
“It was a mess for a few hours this morning. It is under control now.”
About 12 families were living there, said Vijay Khavale, a public relations officer with the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation, which oversees the building.
It’s not clear yet what caused the collapse. “We will only know the cause in a day or two,” Khavale said.
Infrastructure accidents are common in India, where critics say projects lack proper oversight and safety controls.
At least 24 people were killed in May when a wall collapsed at a wedding. Two bridge collapses last year – one in Kolkata and another on a highway connecting Mumbai to Goa – each led to the deaths of more than a dozen people.
One of the most deadly incidents occurred in 2013, when an illegal structure in Thane – not far from Mumbai – collapsed, killing more than 70.
CNN’s Anish Gawande contributed to this report.