Indian building collapse toll up to 17

Monday 30 June 2014 11.54
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An undetermined number of people remain trapped in the wreckage
An undetermined number of people remain trapped in the wreckage
Rescue workers clear rubble at the site
Rescue workers clear rubble at the site
Rescuers have been working to pull survivors from the wreckage
Rescuers have been working to pull survivors from the wreckage

The confirmed death toll from India's latest building collapse has risen to 17 as authorities blamed shoddy construction for the tragedy near the southern city of Chennai.

As rescuers extended their search through the rubble of the 11-storey complex into a third day, officials said the death toll had risen by six from their last update.  

"[A] total of 38 [bodies] have been retrieved so far, 21 of them alive and 17 dead," SP Selvan, a senior officer from the National Disaster Response Force, told reporters from the accident site in Tamil Nadu state today.

An undetermined number of people are still trapped in the wreckage. 

Rescuers faced a huge challenge trying to remove the rubble of what had been a partially-built residential complex and the operation could take several more days, added Mr Selvan.

Police have detained at least five people for questioning, including the builder and engineers involved with construction, according to local newspaper reports.

Speaking on a visit to the scene of the disaster last night, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram said the collapse appeared to have been the result of poor construction.

"From investigations conducted by our senior officers, it appears that the building plans that were approved were not strictly adhered to by the builders," she told reporters.

"There was nothing wrong with the plans that were submitted for approval but the builders... did not adhere to the plans that have been approved."

"It is too early to say exactly what went wrong but there appears to have been serious structural defects... Tests have to be conducted to see whether the soil is suitable, whether the soil is capable of bearing such a huge weight."

The collapse in Tamil Nadu on Saturday came only hours after a dilapidated apartment block crumbled in the capital New Delhi, killing 10 people including five children.

Keywords: india