Police chief: 32 killed after building collapses in India

Indian rescue workers and onlookers search the rubble and gather at the scene of a building collapse in New Delhi, India, on Nov. 15, 2010.

NEW DELHIā€”A four-story building collapsed in a congested neighbourhood in New Delhi Monday, killing at least 32 people and injuring 60 others, a top police official said.

Many more people were trapped under debris after the building on the Indian capital’s east side collapsed, said B.K. Gupta, New Delhi police commissioner.

Local residents, who were the first to reach the scene of the accident, used their bare hands to scoop away mud and mortar and pull out survivors.

Emergency efforts were hampered as fire engines found it difficult to navigate the narrow alleys of the residential neighbourhood of Lalita Park.

Residents helped carry the injured to vehicles and to transport them to nearby hospitals. Police, firefighters and locals tried to remove concrete slabs as hundreds of people crowded around or peered down from rooftops of nearby buildings.

New Delhi’s top elected official, Sheila Dikshit, who reached the site to oversee rescue operations, said at 30 people were still trapped under the rubble. She said it was not immediately possible to say what had caused the accident but promised to order an inquiry.

Another local government official, A.K. Walia, told Press Trust of India news agency that this year’s unusually heavy monsoon rains could have weakened the foundation of the decades-old building.

Poor construction material and inadequate foundations often are blamed for building collapses in India.

In New Delhi, where land is at a premium, unscrupulous builders add additional floors to existing structures often flouting building laws.

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