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Building topples, killing 12, as India flood death toll mounts

MUMBAI, India -- A five-story building collapsed in India's financial capital of Mumbai, killing 12 people and injuring 14 others on Thursday, after torrential rains lashed the country's west. Another 25 people are feared trapped in the debris.

Rescue workers, police and residents helped pull 13 people out of the rubble and were looking for those buried in the huge mound of mud, concrete slabs and twisted steel girders. The residential building is located in a congested lane of the Bhendi Bazaar area in southern Mumbai.

Thousands of Mumbai buildings that are more than 100 years old are at risk of collapse, their foundations weakened partly by some of the heaviest rainfall that the city has witnessed in more than 15 years.

Indians wade through a flooded street during heavy monsoon rains in Mumbai, Aug. 29, 2017. Getty

Authorities were advising people living in an adjacent building to vacate after it developed cracks following Thursday's collapse.

A police official at the site said it was not immediately clear how many people were trapped in the building.

"We are asking people to check if their family members are safe and accounted for," said Manoj Sharma. He said nine families lived in the building.

A nursery school was located in the ground floor of the building, but the collapse occurred before the toddlers had reached for the day.

Hours after the collapse, rescuers used earth moving machines to lift concrete slabs and cement blocks as they searched for survivors.

Building collapses are common in India during the monsoon season, which is June to September. High demand and lax regulations encourage some builders to use substandard materials or add unauthorized extra floors.

Property prices and rents are among the highest in India as Mumbai has expanded manifold in the past five decades.

Meanwhile, the city was slowly limping back to normalcy after it was paralyzed by heavy downpours for two days.

Indians wade through a flooded street during heavy rain showers in Mumbai on August 29, 2017. Getty

Train services and public transport were halted and airports shut on Tuesday as roads turned into rivers and floodwaters seeped into many low-lying buildings. In many places, people had to abandon their vehicles and wade through waist-deep water to reach their homes.

Schools, colleges and offices that were shut Wednesday opened Thursday, but attendance was sparse.

Every year the city struggles to cope with the annual monsoon deluge, drawing criticism about its poor planning.

Since the start of the season, devastating floods across South Asia have killed at least 1,000 people and affected close to 40 million across northern India, southern Nepal and northern Bangladesh.

The rains have led to wide-scale flooding in a broad arc stretching across the Himalayan foothills in the three countries, causing landslides, damaging roads and electric towers and washing away tens of thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland.