Death toll hits 72 in India building collapse

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 6, 2013 at 12:45 am •  Published: April 6, 2013
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MUMBAI, India (AP) — The death toll in the collapse of a residential building being constructed illegally in India's financial capital rose to 72 Saturday amid diminishing hopes of finding any survivors alive, police said.

Another 70 people were injured when the eight-story building on forest land in the Mumbai suburb of Thane caved in into a mound of steel and concrete Thursday evening, police said.

Thirty-six of the injured were still in city hospitals and the rest discharged after medical treatment, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for the local municipal corporation.

Most bodies have been recovered, but some people might still be trapped in the debris, said Malvi. He expected the rescue operation to be completed later Saturday.

Police officer Dahi Phale said that rescue workers with sledgehammers, chainsaws and hydraulic jacks worked through Friday night to break through the tower of rubble in their search for possible survivors. Six bulldozers were brought to the scene.

Malvi said 20 bodies were recovered overnight.

Prithviraj Chavan, the top elected official of Maharashtra state, said a government probe has been ordered into the accident, and that a deputy municipal commissioner and a senior police officer have been suspended for dereliction of duty.

At the time of the collapse, between 100 and 150 people were in the building. Many were residents or construction workers, who were living at the site as they worked on it, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for the Thane government.

The dead included 17 children, police said.

A nearby hospital was filled with the injured, many of whom had head wounds, fractures and spinal injuries. Hospital officials searched in vain for the parents of an injured 10-month-old girl who had been rescued.

At least four floors of the building had been completed and were occupied. Workers had finished three more floors and were adding the eighth when it collapsed, police Inspector Digamber Jangale said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the structure to collapse, but local police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi said it was weakly built. Police were searching for the builders to arrest them, he said.

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