Rescuers dig for building collapse survivors in southern India
The search for survivors at the site of a building collapse in Goa, India continued on Sunday as the death toll reached 14, with many labourers remaining unaccounted for
Rescuers using hoes and shovels searched for survivors on Sunday under a massive pile of broken concrete and dust left when a residential building collapsed under construction in southern India, killing at least 14 workers.
Authorities suspected dozens more may be trapped under the rubble, but were still trying to determine how many workers were on site when the five-storey structure crumpled on Saturday afternoon in the state of Goa. Witnesses reported seeing at least 40 labourers.
Soldiers and firefighters listened for movement or cries from the wreckage as they worked overnight to clear the debris, state official Venancio Furtado said.
At least 10 people were pulled out alive overnight, but the chance of finding survivors was dwindling, Furtado said. By Sunday morning the death toll had reached 14.
Goa’s Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said he ordered a review of the construction project, after seeing cracks that developed in the adjacent apartment building constructed by the same company, Mumbai-based Bharat Developers and Realtors.
“The design is faulty, which is why the tragedy happened,” Parrikar said.
Police began investigating both the company and city officials who approved the construction on a patch of marshland in Canacona, about 70 kilometres from the state capital of Panaji. But they have been unable to track down the construction manager and building contractor.
“Without the contractor, it is impossible for us to know how many labourers were on the shift,” said state official Ajit Panchwadkar, who was supervising the rescue effort on Sunday.
Many of the workers had come from other, poorer states including Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in search of jobs in India’s thriving construction business. One worker who was not at the scene when the building collapsed said he earned about 300 rupees (HK$37.39) for a day’s work, according to Press Trust of India.
Several workers took the day off on Saturday to attend a nearby state cultural fair.
“We rushed from the event when we heard that the building had fallen,” said Manoj Kumar, a worker originally from the eastern state of Orissa.
Building collapses are common in India, however, as massive demand for housing and lax regulations often encourage builders to cut corners by using substandard materials or adding unauthorised extra floors.