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Friday 22 August 2014

Dozens feared trapped in rubble

Published 05/01/2014 | 08:42

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Indian Army soldiers and fire officials look for survivors from the debris of a building that collapsed in Canacona (AP)

Rescuers are searching for survivors in the rubble of a residential building which collapsed while under construction in southern India, killing at least 14 workers.

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Authorities suspected dozens more may be trapped, and are still trying to determine how many workers were on site when the five-story structure crumpled in the state of Goa.

Witnesses reported seeing at least 40 labourers on-site.

Soldiers and firefighters listened for movement or cries from the wreckage as they worked overnight to clear the debris, state official Venancio Furtado said.

At least 10 people were pulled out alive overnight, but the chance of finding survivors is dwindling.

Goa's chief minister Manohar Parrikar has ordered a review of the construction project, after cracks were observed in the adjacent apartment building constructed by the same company, Mumbai-based Bharat Developers and Realtors.

Mr Parrikar said: "The design is faulty, which is why the tragedy happened."

Police are investigating both the building company and city officials who approved the construction on a patch of marshland in Canacona, about 44 miles from the state capital of Panaji. They have been unable to track down the construction manager and building contractor.

"Without the contractor, it is impossible for us to know how many laborers were on the shift," said state official Ajit Panchwadkar, who was supervising the rescue effort Sunday.

Many of the workers had come from other, poorer states including Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in search of jobs in India's thriving construction business. One worker who was not at the scene when the building collapsed said he earned about 300 rupees (£2.90) for a day's work, according to the Press Trust of India.

Several workers took the day off on Saturday to attend a nearby state cultural fair.

"We rushed from the event when we heard that the building had fallen," said Manoj Kumar, a worker originally from the eastern state of Orissa.

Building collapses are common in India, as massive demand for housing and lax regulations often encourage builders to cut corners by using substandard materials or add unauthorised extra floors.

AP

Press Association

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