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India

At least six killed after six-storey building collapses into another outside Indian capital of New Delhi

Another four to five people may be trapped under the debris, police said. Building collapses are common across India, especially during the monsoon season from late June to September

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 10:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 3:12am

A six-storey building under construction collapsed onto an adjacent building east of the Indian capital, killing at least six people and trapping several others under the debris, police said on Wednesday.

Rescuers found six bodies and were digging through a mound of rubble to find the other four or five people believed to be trapped there, police said. Chief Fire Officer Arun Kumar Singh said at least 12 workers were in the building at the time.

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“The buildings collapsed like a matchbox. The rescue efforts are taking time since we cannot use heavy machinery to clear the rubble for fear of harming the trapped victims,” a spokesman of the National Disaster Response Force said.

The second building, which was two years old and inhabited by just one family, collapsed under the impact of the first building on Tuesday night. One security guard and some workers on the ground floor may have been inside at the time as well.

More than 100 rescuers with cranes, sledgehammers and chain saws worked through the night to remove the debris in Shahberi village in Greater Noida, a city to the east of New Delhi.

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Drills were being used to remove metal rods to reach those trapped. A dog squad was at the site smelling for signs of life.

Greater Noida is one of a cluster of areas that have sprung up around the Indian capital over the last decade, home to scores of residential and commercial blocks, many of them unfinished structures for lack of funds or approvals from the state local authorities.

The owner of the building under construction and his two associates have been detained for questioning, Sharma said. The cause of the building collapse was not immediately known.

The National Disaster Response Force, a federal rescue agency, was helping police in the search and rescue operations, Ravinder Singh, a NDRF official, said it would take several hours to clear the debris.

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Angry residents complained that the two buildings collapsed around 8:30pm Tuesday but the police and fire services reached the site an hour and a half later.

The rescue effort was slow to begin with, resident Praveen Srivastava told the New Delhi Television news channel.

Another eyewitness said she felt the earth shaking as the buildings came crashing down.

“The impact was such that I wondered whether the buildings have been dynamited,” she told the Times Now television news channel. She didn’t give her name.

Rescuers found it difficult to take cranes and drilling machines to the site, where the ground was dug up in places during the construction work and had filled with water from monsoon rains.

Television images showed a police officer dangling from a crane, trying to locate those trapped through the windows of the collapsed building.

Building collapses are common in India during June-September monsoon season, when heavy rains weaken the foundations of structures that are poorly constructed. The worst collapse in recent decades killed at least 72 people in Mumbai in 2013.

Additional reporting by Reuters