Scores killed in Indian building collapse

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The Independent Online

Rescuers dug with their hands today to pull survivors and bodies from a building that collapsed in New Delhi, killing at least 64 people and leaving scores injured.

The 15-year-old apartment building housing about 200 people - mostly migrant workers and their families - collapsed on Monday evening in New Delhi's congested Lalita Park area, where emergency efforts were hampered because vehicles had difficulty navigating its narrow alleyways.

"The scale of the tragedy is unprecedented," said New Delhi's top elected official, Sheila Dikshit, as she toured the site.

An 18-year-old man named Niranjan was walking home from the park when he saw the building come crashing down with his family inside.

"The entire building collapsed within seconds as if it was made of sand," he told Press Trust of India. "I ran toward the rubble, but there was nothing I could do."

His brother, mother, sister-in-law and niece were all found dead, he said.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear. One official said the building may have been weakened by water damage following monsoon rains.

Residents said the landlord was illegally constructing an additional floor on the building.

Officials ordered the evacuation of at least one other nearby building that they feared could collapse too, Ms Dikshit said.

Police said they had filed charges against Amrit Singh, the owner of the building, and a search was on to locate him. Residents said he fled the area right after the building collapsed.