Disaster response teams have rescued a four-year-old boy from the debris of a collapsed building in Mahad, India, where at least 11 people have been killed.
The decade-old building “fell like a house of cards,” local politician Manik Motiram Jagtap told the Mumbai-based network TV9 Marathi.
Rescuers working through the night estimate at least 60 survivors will be found in the rubble of the five-story building, hoping that the parking lot and first floor have created air pockets to breathe in. However, with the first floor still intact, relief workers struggle to see below the debris.
The building collapse further challenges the state of Maharashtra during the coronavirus pandemic, which struggles to contain more than a fifth of India’s three million cases.
According to Raigad District Guardian Minister Aditi Tatkare, “there were 47 flats in the building which housed around 150 people. How many were inside the building when it collapsed is still unknown.”
Luckily, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many residents to relocate, sparing more casualties in the building’s collapse.
“Many families were not residing in the building as they went to their native places due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown,” district official Nidhi Choudhari told the Press Trust of India, the country’s largest news agency.
As ambulances rush victims to nearby hospitals, the concern for COVID-19 infections is heightened as residents face additional threats during the monsoon season.
South Asia’s agricultural dependency on the monsoon season has been known to cause widespread damage and economic blows to infrastructure. In addition, building collapses in India are largely attributed to weak construction, substandard materials, and disregard of regulations.
Hours after the building collapse, a 50-year-old house in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city also crumbled, killing one and injuring four.
Shortly after both accidents, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he hopes to “provide all possible assistance, [and] teams are on the way [to assist] with the rescue operations as soon as possible.”