New Delhi: In a heroic effort, residents of Dongri area in Mumbai on Tuesday formed a human chain to remove debris and rescue victims after a 100-year-old building collapsed earlier in the day.

They removed the debris brick by brick with their bare hands, picking up slabs of concrete to locate those buried.

So far, the death toll in the four-storey residential building collapse has reached three, while eight have been injured but more than 40 are feared trapped inside.

Fire brigade, Mumbai Police and civic officials rushed to the site but the constricted lanes made it difficult to access the area, reduced to a mass of rubble, twisted concrete and broken wires. A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was then deployed to carry out their search and rescue mission. Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) opened a shelter at Imamwada Municipal Secondary Girls’ School after the building collapse, said a civic official.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis noted that the 100-year-old building was not in the list of dilapidated buildings and was given to a developer for redevelopment. He added that between 10 to 15 families lived in the building. The residents, on the other hand, had long been complaining to housing authorities to take prompt measures as the old building was in a dilapidated state for a long time, stated Legislator Bhai Jagtap.

While locals said the building belonged to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the chief of MHADA repair board, Vinod Ghosalkar dismissed the claim.

Ambulances could not reach the site and had to be parked around 50 metres away. The rescue work, which was hampered by narrow lanes, was further delayed as politicians, including ministers, legislators and leader of the opposition, made a beeline to the building collapse site. Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve also visited the site.

Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar has now asked the municipal commissioner to launch a probe after the ‘Kausarbaug’ building, located in Tandel Street of Dongri area crashed today.

(With agency inputs)