Building collapse in New Delhi kills 64, injures 80

Police search for building's owner who fled area right after collapse; residents say illegal construction of additional floor to blame.

November 16, 2010 10:04
1 minute read.
Indian rescue workers pull the body of a woman fro

India Building Collapse 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

NEW DELHI — Rescuers hammered slabs of concrete and dug with their hands Tuesday to pull survivors and bodies from a four-story apartment building that collapsed into a mountain of rubble in a poor New Delhi neighborhood. At least 64 people were killed and scores injured.

The 15-year-old building housing about 200 people — mostly migrant workers and their families — collapsed Monday evening in New Delhi's congested Lalita Park area, where emergency efforts were hampered because vehicles had difficulty navigating its narrow alleyways.

"The scale of the tragedy is unprecedented," New Delhi's top elected official, Sheila Dikshit, said as she toured the site.

An 18-year-old man named Niranjan was walking home from the park when he saw the building come crashing down with his family inside.

"The entire building collapsed within seconds as if it was made of sand," he told Press Trust of India. "I ran toward the rubble, but there was nothing I could do."

His brother, mother, sister-in-law and niece were all found dead, he said.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear. One official said the building may have been weakened by water damage following monsoon rains; Residents said the landlord was illegally constructing an additional floor on the building.

Officials ordered the evacuation of at least one other nearby building that they feared could collapse too, Dikshit said.

Police said they had filed charges against Amrit Singh, the owner of the building, and a search was on to locate him. Residents said he fled the area right after the building collapsed.

By Tuesday afternoon, at least 64 bodies were recovered and another 80 people were injured, city police official Mohammed Akhlaq said.

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