11 dead, 50 rescued after India building collapse

National Disaster Response Force personnel look at the body of a victim partially covered by rubble the day after an under-construction multi-story building collapsed in Dharwad district of Karnataka, situated about 700 km north of Bangalore, on Wednesday. — AFP

NEW DELHI — Eleven people were confirmed dead on Thursday three days after a building under construction in southern India caved in, officials said.

Building collapses are frequent in India. Many firms use cheap materials and bribe officials to evade regulations, while on-site safety is lax.

Around 400 rescuers have been scouring through tons concrete and steel after the latest tragedy in Karnataka state on Tuesday.

Fifty-three people have been rescued from the rubble of the five-story building in Dharwad district, but three more bodies were pulled out on Thursday.

“At least 15 people are possibly still under the debris and it’s unlikely they will survive,” emergency official Srikant, who goes by one name, said.

Heavy earth-movers and rescuers with specialized equipment and sniffer dogs were deployed in the increasingly desperate operation.

The victims were mostly from northern Indian states who came to the region for work.

Police have charged the builder with manslaughter but he remains free, with investigators saying he will be arrested after the rescue operation is over.

Last September, five people were killed after a Delhi apartment block collapsed. Months earlier, a six-story building in the capital had given way, killing nine.

Millions of Indians, who will vote in elections in April and May, live in dilapidated old buildings, many of which are susceptible to collapse during rain. — AFP