India building collapse: 'Scores trapped' in Chennai

  • 29 June 2014
  • From the section India
Media captionMost of those trapped under the rubble are thought to be workers from a neighbouring province

More than 100 people are still feared trapped after a building collapsed in southern India, an official has said.

At least nine people died and several were hurt when the 12-storey building under construction toppled in Chennai in heavy rain late on Saturday.

Hours earlier, a four-storey building came down in the capital Delhi, killing 10 people, including five children.

India has seen frequent building collapses, many blamed on lax safety and substandard materials.

At least two construction company officials have been arrested in connection with the collapse in Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Rescue teams with cutters and shovels are continuing to search for survivors.

"There are approximately 132 labourers who are under the debris and approximately 100 of them belong to southern Andhra Pradesh province," joint collector Rekha Rani told Reuters news agency.

At least 26 people have so far been rescued. It is not clear whether Mr Rani was speaking before the rescues took place.

A police investigation has also been launched.

By Yogita Limaye, BBC News, Mumbai

Building collapses have become an almost common occurrence in India, with numerous such accidents taking place across large cities over the past year. The latest incidents have once again put the spotlight on the need for better regulation of construction in the country.

While some collapses have occurred because poor quality material was used, others, have been because the buildings were simply too old and residents refused to leave despite them being labelled as dangerous to live in.

Corruption is also a factor, because in many cases, changes to the building's structure - such as adding extra floors, or breaking down walls, which might make it vulnerable - are permitted by authorities that have been found to have accepted bribes.

Soaring property prices in Indian cities have also meant that finding a flat that fits your budget is so hard, that people very often tend to compromise on safety.

In pictures: India building collapses

Police said larger pieces of rubble would have to be moved before rescuers could search for more survivors.

Fire service official Vijay Shekar told the Times of India newspaper that it could take two days to reach the ground floor of the building, adding that it would be a "massive operation".

Image caption A woman was found alive under the debris in Chennai on Sunday morning
Image caption Rescuers in Chennai used sniffer dogs to search for survivors
Image caption There are fears that the death toll will rise further in the Delhi building collapse

While the cause of the latest collapse is still under investigation, a lack of construction codes, leading to lax safety, is one reason for frequent collapses of buildings and other infrastructure projects in India.

There is also a high demand for housing, pushing up costs and forcing less affluent people to risk their lives in decrepit or badly constructed buildings.

In January, at least 14 people died when a building under construction came crashing down in the western state of Goa.

At least 42 people died after a four-storey building collapsed in Mumbai last September.

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