A dilapidated, three-story building in a poorer neighborhood of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi collapsed before dawn on Tuesday, killing at least five people and injuring 14, a rescue and senior police official said.
Several hours into the day, rescuers were still working and pulling more bodies from under the rubble, according to Rizwan Edhi, a top official for Pakistan’s largest private ambulance service, Edhi.
“Rescuers are using heavy machinery with utmost care as we can still hear voices of people trapped in the rubble,” he said.
Earlier, senior police official Aran Kobra said the dead included a man and his son, who were sleeping when the building collapsed. He said up to two people were still believed to be trapped under the rubble.
TV footage showed a teenage boy crying for help as residents struggled with their hands to remove a concrete pillar that had fallen on his leg. Later, the boy was rescued with the help of construction machinery.
Shortly after the 3 a.m. collapse, when only two were reported killed, Karachi’s Deputy Commissioner Farid Uddin warned the death toll could climb further as rescue workers painstakingly sifted through the rubble.
Uddin said the cause of the collapse wasn’t immediately known though reports indicated the building was old and poorly constructed, which could have contributed to the collapse.
Safety codes are often ignored in Pakistan and in some of the poorer areas construction is haphazard and bribes are paid to inspectors to approve substandard construction.