MUMBAI, Sep 29 – The death toll from the collapse of a residential block in Mumbai rose to 60 on Sunday as rescuers ended their search with all the missing accounted for, officials said.
The five-storey block in the city’s east, home to 22 families and owned by the municipal authority, came crashing down in a mass of rubble at daybreak on Friday.
“The toll has now risen to 60 and we have now called off the search for more bodies in the debris,” Mumbai deputy police commissioner Tanaji Ghadge told AFP.
“There is no one else to search for except that the debris now needs to be cleared up,” the officer said and added he would lead a police enquiry into the deadly mishap.
Ghadke also said one person had been arrested over the incident, which marked the latest building disaster to hit the city and surrounding areas.
The Press Trust of India news agency, quoting unnamed police officers, identified the man as Ashok Mehta who owned an office in the building.
Thirty three others were rescued alive from the rubble, Alok Avasthy, an official at the National Disaster Response Force told AFP by telephone from the incident site.
But he said the death toll may rise depending on whether victims in hospital succumb to their injuries.
“Thirty of those killed are females,” he said.
A male survivor in his 40s was the last to be pulled out from under the twisted iron bars and fallen concrete on Saturday afternoon, Avasthy said.
Police officer Ghadge said a severed head and a torso were pulled out from separate locations of the decimated building.
“Only a DNA test of the two severed parts will establish if it was one victim,” Ghadge said.
Over the two days of emergency operations, distraught relatives stood tearfully watching the rescue efforts, hoping family members would be pulled alive from the twisted wreckage.
Several diggers had been pressed into action to lift some of the larger slabs of concrete, allowing teams of rescuers to take out bodies and search for those still alive.
The Press Trust of India news agency said the arrested man was accused of carrying out faulty and unauthorised renovation at his rented office cum warehouse on the ground floor of the building, which is thought to have caused the collapse.
Local media also said that the building, about 30 years old, had been listed as needing “urgent repairs”.