National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials and firemen remove debris as they look for survivors after a three-storey residential building collapsed in Bhiwandi on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, September 21, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Bhiwandi, Maharashtra: The death toll from an apartment block collapse in western India climbed to 20 Tuesday, with more bodies likely to be recovered, officials said, as rescuers searched for survivors.

Emergency workers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have pulled 20 survivors - including two boys aged four and seven - from the rubble of the building in Bhiwandi, near Mumbai.


An NDRF spokesman told reporters that recovery teams, aided by sniffer dogs, also retrieved 20 bodies buried under layers of brick and concrete when the three-storey block came crashing down before dawn on Monday.

NDRF director general Satya Narayan Pradhan tweeted that he expected the toll to increase, with "more (bodies) likely under debris".

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but building collapses are common during India's June-September monsoon season, with old and rickety structures buckling after days of non-stop rain.