Toll in Delhi building collapse mounts to 66!

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 on 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 on Monday at Lalita Park in Laxmi Nagar.

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

The Delhi government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of those killed and Rs 1 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)

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