At least 66 people were killed and 73 were injured after a crude brick building whose foundation had been weakened by monsoon rain crashed down in a congested New Delhi neighborhood. By Tuesday evening, as rescue workers continued to tear through the pile of broken bricks, twisted iron rods and concrete slabs, hope for finding more survivors was fading.
The 15-year-old building housing about 200 people - mostly migrant workers and their families - collapsed Monday evening in New Delhi's congested Lalita Park area, where emergency efforts were hampered because vehicles had difficulty navigating its narrow alleyways.
"The scale of the tragedy is unprecedented," New Delhi's top elected official, Sheila Dikshit, said as she toured the site.
An 18-year-old man named Niranjan was walking home from the park when he saw the building come crashing down with his family inside.
"The entire building collapsed within seconds as if it was made of sand," he told Press Trust of India. "I ran toward the rubble, but there was nothing I could do."
His brother, mother, sister-in-law and niece were all found dead, he said.
The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear. One official said the building may have been weakened by water damage following monsoon rains; Residents said the landlord was illegally constructing an additional floor on the building.
Officials ordered the evacuation of at least one other nearby building that they feared could collapse too, Dikshit said.
Many workers from West Bengal found housing in the crude brick building in the Lalita Park neighborhood near the Yamuna River because it was one of the rare homes they could afford amid the skyrocketing real estate prices in the crowded city.