Class of toddlers narrowly avoided Mumbai building collapse by minutes as tragedy death toll rises

As hopes fade of finding anyone alive in the rubble of a collapsed India building it has emerged an entire nursery class narrowly avoided being victims.

More than 30 deaths have been confirmed after the fall of a five-storey Mumbai apartment block that was declared unsafe to live in six years ago.

Thursday morning's collapse, which was caused by flood damage to the weak foundations, came shortly before the toddlers had been due to arrive ahead of their 10am lessons on the first floor.

Amina Sheikh tightly held her four-year-old grandson's hand as they watched the rescue efforts from a safe distance.

Amina Sheikh was readying her grandson for school when she heard the building crash. Credit: APTN

"This is my grandson. He used to go to school in that building," she said, pointing at the rubble.

She had been getting him ready for school when she heard a loud boom and saw the building had crashed down.

She said it was "an hour before his class began. That's why my grandson's life was saved".

Police believe around a dozen people remain buried under the huge mound of broken concrete slabs and twisted steel girders.

Amina Sheikh and her grandson watched the rescue efforts from a nearby apartment. Credit: APTN

Despite failing safety tests around 2011, the 117-year-old building continued to house nine families in the flats above the nursery.

The search is complicated by authorities admitting they do not know exactly how many people lived in the building or were in the ground floor work spaces when it fell.

Only 15 people pulled from the rubble have survived.

Authorities have worked through day and night to try to reach people trapped under the rubble. Credit: AP

Residents of an adjacent building have been advised to leave after it developed cracks following the collapse.

Hundreds of buildings are feared unsafe after Mumbai recorded exeedingly heavy downpours - even by the standards of the annual monsoon season.

The 12 inches of rainfall recorded on Tuesday was the city's highest since 2005.

Devastating floods across South Asia have claimed at least 1,000 lives in northern India, southern Nepal and northern Bangladesh.