Two dead, dozens trapped, in India building collapse - officials

2019-03-19 21:51

At least two people have died and dozens are feared trapped under rubble after a building site collapsed on Tuesday in India's southern Karnataka state, officials told AFP.

Rescue teams and ambulances were scrambling to Dharwad district, roughly 700km northwest of the state capital Bangalore, where the five-floor under-construction apartment block crumbled.

"Two people have been killed in the collapse and eight have been rescued so far. We have pressed in men and machines to rescue those trapped," Srikant, the district's regional fire and emergency officer, who gave just one name, told AFP.

Another regional emergency official said as many as 152 people were believed trapped beneath the rubble.

Nagesh D.L., the district's deputy commissioner of police, said eight people had been recovered from the rubble so far "including dead and alive".

"We think there are still many people alive (underneath). The police still don't have a clear idea... some locals say it is around 15, and some others have said it is over 50," he told AFP.

Hospitals in the district have been placed on alert and 20 ambulances sent to the accident site, said Dharwad's top medical officer Giridhar Kokinad.

"Thirteen injured have been brought to the hospital. There are reports of some deaths but we can't confirm the number," he told AFP.

Building collapses are frequent in India, with a string of accidents reported in recent years.

Critics say many private builders use inferior construction material to cut corners on costs or bribe officials to bypass regulations.

Last September five people were killed after an apartment block collapsed in Delhi. Just months earlier a six-storey building collapsed on the outskirts of the capital, killing nine.

Millions also live in dilapidated old buildings, many of which are susceptible to collapse during rain.

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