The death toll from an apartment block collapse in western India jumped to 39 Wednesday, officials said, as hopes of finding anyone else alive dimmed.
Emergency workers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have so far pulled 20 survivors from the rubble of the three-storey building in Bhiwandi, near Mumbai.
A senior NDRF official told AFP that recovery teams, aided by sniffer dogs, retrieved 39 bodies buried under brick and concrete after the block came crashing down before dawn on Monday.
“Five people are still missing so… operations are ongoing,” NDRF Commandant Anupam Srivastava said.
An official with the Thane city authority, which oversees Bhiwandi, said the dead included at least eight children.
The cause of the incident was not immediately clear, but building collapses are common during India’s June-September monsoon season, with old and rickety structures buckling under days of non-stop rain.
Heavy overnight downpours in the Mumbai region forced railway authorities to reschedule or cancel trains in the city Wednesday due to waterlogging on tracks.
Mumbai city officials also declared Wednesday a holiday, advising residents to stay indoors after the rain caused flooding and disrupted traffic in some areas of the financial capital.