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5 detained, 26 dead in India building collapses

NEW DELHI (AP) - Police in southern India detained five construction company officials Sunday as rescuers using gas cutters and shovels searched for dozens of workers believed buried in the rubble of a building that collapsed during monsoon rains. It was one of two weekend building collapses that killed at least 26 people.

Nearly 90 contract workers were believed to have been in the basement of the 11-story structure to collect their wages when it collapsed Saturday on the outskirts of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

Police said eight died on the spot and another seven succumbed to injuries in a hospital. Another 20 people have been pulled out alive.

J. Jayalalitha, the state's top elected official, visited the site on Sunday and said another 40 people may still be trapped under the debris, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Rescuers could hear feeble voices in the debris, said T.S. Sridhar, the disaster management agency commissioner. Officials used gas cutters, iron rods and shovels after cranes lifted concrete blocks to get to the survivors.

"Removing debris is a major challenge. It may take two to three days to clear the rubble," said S.P. Selvam, who is heading the rescue operation.

Moderate to heavy rains hampered rescue efforts later Sunday, but these were continuing, said police officer Pushpraj, who uses one name.

George Fernandes, another police officer, said two directors, two engineers and one supervisor of the construction company, Prime Sristi, were detained for questioning as authorities began investigating the collapse.

Balaguru, one of the builders, said the structure collapsed possibly due to the impact of lightning.

"Usually, once the construction gets over we install the equipment to prevent the building from a thunder strike. It was nearing completion," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Balaguru, who uses one name, as saying.

Earlier Saturday, 11 people died and one survivor was being treated in a hospital after a four-story, 50-year-old structure toppled in an area of New Delhi inhabited by the poor, said fire service officer Praveer Haldiar.

Most homes in that part of the capital were built without permission and using substandard materials, police officer Madhur Verma said.

Building collapses are common in India, where high demand for housing and lax regulations have encouraged some builders to cut corners, use substandard materials or add unauthorized extra floors.

In April last year, 74 people were killed when an eight-story building being constructed illegally in the Mumbai suburb of Thane in western Maharashtra state caved in. It was the worst building collapse in the country in decades.

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rvheaney June 29 2014 at 11:41 PM

Another two and a half years of Obama and India will look good !

Flag Reply +5 rate up
JOHN June 29 2014 at 10:40 PM

They don't need safety. The next open building will house another labor camp for kids and be running in days. NO standards are much cheaper to produce for Corporations.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
ggena June 29 2014 at 11:06 PM

Make regulations and enforce regulations. Otherwise, the building, and society, crumbles.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
rwa325 June 30 2014 at 12:57 AM

I am not an engineer, but I'm dead certain that there is no way that a lightening strike can bring down a steel-reenforced conctete building, if the concrete is of the proper mix and the construction techniques are legal. Someone is guilty of mass manslaughter. And everyone bringing American politics into this tragedy are jerks.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
KILO ROCK BRAVO rwa325 June 30 2014 at 12:59 AM

I'm sorry rwa325 but this is a haters blog. Accurate technological assessments of facts are frowned upon. From now on news articles about botanical gardens will recieve double the relevant I hate Obama mail.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
radarmannoshoes June 29 2014 at 10:04 PM

And American companies outsource their engineering to India to save money.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rpfor June 30 2014 at 12:50 AM

A India! A right wing paradise. No regulations! Workers perish! Just collateral damage but at least it doesn't affect profit. And best of all wages are low enough to keep the poor, poor!!! Remember Bhopal?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Kate June 30 2014 at 3:11 AM

Oh god, I am so sorry, but also so angry that American companies like Walmart continue to use companies operating in substandard buildings and with appalling working conditions, because they simply don't care.

I am so sorry for all the victims and their families.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
soccer_sucks June 29 2014 at 11:55 PM

Well this is a good start.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
KILO ROCK BRAVO soccer_sucks June 30 2014 at 12:55 AM

OH boy, wemon and children in foriegn countrys dead and dying........don't you just love it. They deserve life ending violence because, uh....oh yea They're wemon and children in foriegn countrys.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rvheaney June 29 2014 at 11:39 PM

India way of birth control ! DNC to put on there platform in 2016 !

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
GB rvheaney June 30 2014 at 12:09 AM


Flag Reply 0 rate up
lanemo June 29 2014 at 11:03 PM

Putting some of these pictures on here is outrageous. It is disrespectful to those who lost their lives. Its bad enough this happened but putting up that one pic especially is way over the top. Take them down.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
bwess8 lanemo June 30 2014 at 3:50 AM

SO Wal-Mart Fat cats don't get embarrassed ?

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