More survivors found in India building collapse rubble as death toll rises to 26

More than a dozen people still believed to be trapped in the debris

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 1:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 8:02pm

Emergency workers pulled out three more survivors from the rubble of a collapsed building in southern India on Tuesday as authorities said they expected to wrap up rescue efforts by the end of the day.

While the death toll from Saturday’s disaster on the outskirts of Chennai rose to 26, officials said more than a dozen people were still believed to be trapped in the debris.

Karuna Sagar, a senior officer with the Tamil Nadu state police force, said the three latest survivors were rescued overnight as hundreds of rescue workers toiled round the clock.

Watch: Dozens killed and trapped after building collapsed in southern India

“Three people have been pulled out alive. One late at night and two others early this morning. They have been taken to the hospital,” Sagar said by phone.

“There may be another 15-20 trapped, but rescue efforts are in progress and going according to plan.”

The search is still on. We are trying to do everything to save people
D. Chandran

Sagar said that the number of people known to have died now stood at 26.

D. Chandran, a state administration officer, said that a total of 26 survivors had been rescued since Saturday night but he indicated that the operation was drawing to a close.

“The search is still on. We are trying to do everything to save people,” Chandran said.

“With a lot of debris removed, search will become faster and (rescue efforts) will likely close before end of today,” he added, speaking in English.

Reports said that one of the survivors rescued early on Tuesday was a construction worker who was one of several dozen entombed by a mass of concrete on Saturday night.

Television footage showed rescuers wearing hard hats and masks carrying the victim on a stretcher down a hill of debris to an ambulance.

Emergency teams used mechanical diggers and heavy-cutting equipment to try and find more survivors in the ruins of what was a partially-built 11-storey complex.

The collapse in Tamil Nadu on Saturday came only hours after a dilapidated apartment block crumbled in the capital New Delhi, killing 10 people including five children.

Building collapses are common in India. Lax regulations and the demand for cheap housing mean contractors sometimes use substandard materials or add unauthorised extra floors.

In September last year more than 50 people were crushed to death when a five-storey building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai on the west coast.