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13 killed in India building collapse

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The death toll from a five-story apartment building collapsed in the Indian state of Maharashtra has risen to 13, as rescue operations to locate the missing were suspended overnight.

Four people remain missing and are presumed still trapped, Anupam Srivastava, head of India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Maharashtra unit said on Tuesday.

A four-year-old boy was rescued alive from the scene on Tuesday, according to Srivastava.

The building collapsed at about 6:30 p.m. on Monday. The third, fourth and fifth floors were all “completely collapsed,” according to Srivastava, but officials are hopeful that air pockets in the parking lot and on the first floor have allowed people to survive.

Some 70 of the 97 residents managed to escape. Eight were rescued by the NDRF, of which one man later succumbed to a heart attack.

State and federal first responders used specially trained dogs to help dig through the remains of the structure, which is located in Raigad district’s Mahad city, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Mumbai.

The rescue operation will resume at daylight on Wednesday.

Residents told emergency workers that when they ran out of the building, the pillars in the parking lot were “still vibrating,” meaning they could have withstood the collapse.

Srivastava said “it is possible that the first floor may be intact,” but that responders “can’t see it below the debris.”

An official with the local fire department, V.Y. Mote, said he expects the operation to take one more day.

The building was made up of 41 apartments, but 18 of them were not occupied, district official Nidhi Chaudhary told reporters. Local authorities have prepared a list of the building’s residents and “have shared the details of the missing persons with those present at the scene of the collapse in case they are able to identify someone from among the injured,” Chaudhary said.

Authorities initially feared that up to 60 people were trapped and 18 were injured, but have since revised those figures.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter he was “saddened” by news of the collapse and that his “thoughts are with the families of those who lost their dear ones.”

“I pray the injured recover soon. Local authorities and NDRF teams are at the site of the tragedy, providing all possible assistance,” his office tweeted.

India’s home affairs minister, Amit Shah, tweeted: “The collapse of a building in Raigad, Maharashtra is very tragic. Have spoken to provide all possible assistance, teams are on the way and will be assisting with the rescue operations as soon as possible. Praying for everyone’s safety.”

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