Delhi building collapse toll rises to 66

At least 80 people were also injured when the 15-year-old building came crashing.

Updated: Nov 16, 2010, 12:44 PM IST

New Delhi: The four-storey building
collapse in East Delhi has claimed 66 lives and left 130
injured in one of the worst such disasters in the capital, as
massive rescue operations were Tuesday on to pull out those
trapped under the debris.

"66 people have died and about 130 are injured and
admitted to various hospitals of the capital with a major
chunk being at the LNJP," Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia
said.

41 bodies have been taken to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash
Narayan Hospital (LNJP), 16 to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital,
six to Hedgewar Hospital and three to Guru Teg Bahadur
Hospital.

Over 60 families, mostly labourers from West Bengal,
were living in the cramped quarters of the 15-year-old
building, where an illegal fifth floor was under construction.
The entire structure came crashing down around 8.15 PM
yesterday at Lalita Park in Laxmi Nagar.

Police and fire officials said at least 10 people are
still are trapped under the debris.

The Delhi Government announced an ex-gratia of Rs two
lakh each to the families of those killed and Rs one lakh to
the injured.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Lieutenant Governor
Tejindra Khanna, who visited the site of the building
collapse in Lakshmi Nagar, said strict action would be taken
against those found guilty in the incident.

A magisterial inquiry has already been ordered into
the incident.

Police have registered a case of culpable homicide not
amounting to murder against the building owner Amrit Singh,
who is absconding. A senior police official said the case has
been registered against under section 304 of Indian Penal
Code.

Urban Development Minister A K Walia said authorities
are looking into how the building was allowed to come up and
prima facie it seems that proximity to the river Yamuna and
water-logging were the reasons behind the collapse.

The building had been rented out to migrant labourers
and some factories and workshops were being illegally run
from there.

The building is suspected to have weakened due to the
heavy rains during monsoon when Yamuna river flooded the
area. The basement of the building was waterlogged for the
last two months, nearby residents said.

Rescue workers from National Disaster Response Force
(NDRF), fire department, police, civil defence and locals had
worked overnight to remove tons of concrete from the spot and
find trapped people.

A 250-member disaster management team has been
deployed to help in rescue effort.

Walia said permission for construction and other
clearances for the building were the responsibility of the
Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Development
Authority. "Multiplicity of authority is a big problem for
Delhi," he said.

PTI