Rescuers dig for survivors in India building ruins

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Associated Press

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 3:02 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 3:06 AM

NEW DELHI (AP) — Rescuers pulled two survivors Monday from the huge pile of broken concrete left by the collapse of an 11-story apartment building that killed at least 19 people in southern India, police said.

Seasonal monsoon rains were complicating the search, but rescuers said they hoped to find more people alive after rescuing a woman and a man on Monday — two days after the collapse.

Three backhoes were working to clear the area, but more than 100 rescuers wearing hard hats on site were trying to avoid upsetting the debris, which was in a huge pile of dust, crumbled concrete, slabs and twisted iron girders that could still settle further. Instead, they were listening for sounds to help guide their search.

"We heard voices coming from the debris" on Sunday, said S.P. Selvan of the National Disaster Response Force. "Following the voice ... one lady was retrieved alive yesterday evening."

So far, 39 people have been rescued, and police have arrested six construction company officials for alleged criminal negligence and violation of building codes.

The building crashed down Saturday night while in the final stages of construction outside Chennai, the south-coast capital of Tamil Nadu state. Nearly 90 contract workers were believed to have been in the basement collecting wages.

Building collapses are common in India, where high housing demand and lax regulations have encouraged builders to cut corners, use substandard materials or add unauthorized floors.

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