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9 killed, 15 injured in Chennai building collapse

9 killed, 15 injured in Chennai building collapseDirector of construction company responsible for building detained; says thunder was the reason why the building collapsed

Chennai: The death toll in the 11 storey-building collapse in Chennai has gone up to nine while about 25 people trapped under the debris have been rescued, officials said.

According to Fire Service and police officials nine people have lost their lives in the under-construction residential building’s collapse Saturday evening that trapped over 50 people.

Around 20 of the 25 people rescued are alive. The rescue operations continued through Saturday night and are still on. The injured have been admitted in the nearby hospital.

Police have arrested four people, two of whom – Manoharan and his son Muthu – are said to be the project developers and the other two are engineers.

Fire Service officials at the site said rescue efforts are at full swing. Giant steel rod cutters and other equipment have been pressed in to service. Sniffer dogs are at the accident site to locate trapped people.

Meanwhile, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) officials said a formal report would be submitted to the government on Sunday; the report will inquire into “irregularities” or “illegalities”, if any, in granting plan permission.

Other aspects to be examined include the quality of construction and the soil suitability, they said.

The residential project Trust Heights is being developed by Prime Sristi Housing Pvt Ltd. The project consisted of two 11-storey blocks – The Belief and The Faith.

The building collapsed at Moulivakkam in the western suburb, about 20 km from Chennai, as rains lashed the area and several other parts of the city this evening. Building firm Prime Sristi, which took up the residential project, claimed the mishap occurred due to impact of thunder.

“Usually, once the construction gets over we install the equipment to prevent the building from thunder strike. It was nearing completion,” Balaguru, Director, Prime Sristi, said. He said about 50 workers were inside the building during the mishap and there was a heavy downpour at that time. The mishap resulted in heavy traffic jams in the area.

Most of the people who were trapped under the debris are said to be construction workers and some might have taken shelter in the building as it was raining at the time of the collapse, people in the area said.

Police have cordoned off the area to ensure rescue work is carried out swiftly. A team from the National Disaster Management Authority has also been pressed into the rescue work.