Category: World / April 5, 2013 5:04 PM EDT
An old woman managed to survive after enduring several hours under the debris of a collapsed building in the city of Thane in India's western state of Maharashtra, after being rescued by volunteers of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Friday (April 5).
At least 39 people were killed and dozens injured after an illegal, half-constructed building collapsed in seconds 'like a pack of cards' late on Thursday (April 4).
Rescue workers used cranes and bulldozers to search for survivors in the wreck of steel and concrete through the night on Thursday and into Friday morning after the seven-storey building crumbled.
The leader of the operation by the National Disaster Response Force, Alok Awasthi, said, whilst it was a difficult situation, time was still on their side.
"We are facing no problems in carrying out the rescue works. The entire process will take time, maybe 2 to 10 days. Our previous experiences in such cases show that we have rescued people from debris, alive, as late as eight days after accidents," he said.
"That is why we are working slowly but steadily and professionally to rescue the survivors in the incident," he added.
Members of the National Disaster Management Authority were quick to respond to the accident and earthmoving mechanised shovels as well as bulldozers were also swiftly deployed to shift the debris and help look for survivors.
Fire crews were also sent to the spot to aid the salvage and rescue operations.
Locals were seen pulling out dead bodies from the debris.
A shortage of cheap homes in Asia's third-largest economy has led to a rise in illegal construction by developers who use substandard materials and shoddy methods in order to offer rock-bottom rents to low-paid workers.
A sharp rise in property prices in densely populated Mumbai over the past five years has put housing out of reach for tens of thousands of lower earners, many of whom moved to the city in search of jobs, and who now sleep on the streets or in slums.
In 2012, India's urban housing shortage was estimated at nearly 19 million households, according to a report by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
(Video Source: REUTERS)