At least three people have been killed and several others are feared trapped after a building collapsed onto another structure in the suburb of the capital, New Delhi, officials said.
“There were atleast three families living in the old building that collapsed upon an under-construction building,” Arun Kumar Singh, chief fire officer, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
“We have dragged out three dead bodies from the debris,” he added. “It’s very difficult to say at the moment how many people are actually trapped under the rubble.”
The National Disaster Response Force, a federal rescue agency, along with the police began the search and rescue operation Tuesday night, with officials saying that it would take several hours to clear the debris.
As the operation continued on Wednesday, more than 100 emergency workers used cranes, sledgehammers and chain saws to sift through the damage in Greater Noida’s Shahberi village, nearly 40km east of New Delhi.
Drills were being used to remove metal rods to reach those trapped and a dog squad was at the site smelling for signs of life.
|At least 100 rescue workers with cranes and chainsaws sift through the debris [Altaf Qadri/AP]|
The cause of the collapse was not immediately known, but a case has been registered about the building collapse in Bisrakh police station in Uttar Pradesh, Police Inspector Akhilesh Tripathi told Al Jazeera, without divulging into further details.
At least four people, including the builder, have been detained by the police over Tuesday’s incident.
“Strict action will be taken against those responsible,” Avnish Kumar, a Greater Noida police officer, told AFP news agency.
Building collapses are common in India, especially during the monsoon season from late June to September, when heavy rains weaken the foundations of structures that are poorly constructed.
At least 18 people died in May when a flyover collapsed in northern India, crushing vehicles and passengers under tonnes of concrete.
The worst collapse in recent decades killed at least 72 people in Mumbai in 2013.
Additional reporting by Zeenat Saberin from New Delhi
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies