Delhi building collapse: Mass evacuation from surrounding blocks

People search for survivors under the rubble in Delhi on 15 November 2010 Police have been questioning the owner of the collapsed five-storey building

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Dozens of apartment blocks are being evacuated in Delhi close to a building that collapsed on Monday with the loss of at least 67 lives.

Fearing further tragedy, city authorities have given hundreds of residents at 38 blocks in the east of Delhi 24 hours to move out.

Rescue workers have halted the search for survivors from the fallen block, but expect more bodies to be found.

The owner of the five-storey building was charged with culpable homicide.

The disaster has been blamed on shoddy construction, extra storeys allegedly being added illegally to the structure and waterlogging from the nearby Yamuna river.

Municipal Corporation of Delhi spokesman Deep Mathur told the AFP news agency on Wednesday: "Stagnant water was found in the basements of 38 buildings in the district, so the inhabitants must vacate immediately for their own safety.

"We will look into the issue of illegal construction later. Right now, clearing people from these buildings is our priority."

The BBC's Brajesh Upadhyay in Delhi says most of the residents being evacuated from the district are poor migrant workers who now face homelessness.

Investigation

Father-of-seven Nagender Sharma, a carpenter, and his family were among the affected residents found by AP news agency camping in a nearby park.

Bulldozers have continued to clear debris at the site of the collapsed building in the Lalita Park area, where up to 20 people remain missing, according to the Hindustan Times.

The government has ordered an inquiry into the tragedy, which left about 100 other people injured.

Witnesses described the block crumbling like a pack of cards, or as if it had been made of sand.

Survivors and neighbours formed human chains, using their bare hands to try to remove rubble and reach survivors.

Emergency teams had trouble getting lifting gear through the narrow streets to the disaster scene.

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