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Originally published Monday, June 30, 2014 at 6:30 AM

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Rescuers dig for survivors in India building ruins

More than 100 rescuers carefully dug for survivors under a collapsed 11-story building in southern India on Monday, with hopes buoyed after six people were found alive two days after the tragedy.


Associated Press

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NEW DELHI —

More than 100 rescuers carefully dug for survivors under a collapsed 11-story building in southern India on Monday, with hopes buoyed after six people were found alive two days after the tragedy.

The collapse Saturday killed at least 19 people and left an enormous pile of broken slabs, twisted iron girders and concrete dust where the apartment building, still under construction, had stood in a suburb of Chennai, the south-coast capital of Tamil Nadu state.

Nearly 90 contract workers, most from neighboring Andhra Pradesh state, were believed to have been in the basement collecting wages.

Rescuers have pulled at least 41 people from the wreckage, even as seasonal monsoon rains impeded the search. Police said 30 other people are likely still trapped.

Three backhoes were working to clear the area, but rescuers were having to work slowly and carefully to avoid upsetting the debris, which could settle further and crush anyone trapped below.

Instead, rescuers were listening for sounds from within the wreckage 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."

Indian TV news stations broadcast images of rescuers -- wearing hard hats and masks -- hoisting a rescued man on a stretcher and carried him down the mountain of debris to an ambulance.

Police have arrested six construction company officials for alleged criminal negligence and violation of building codes.

The governments of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh together offered 700,000 rupees ($11,600) to the families of each person killed.

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



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