Chennai building collapse toll rises to 24

Rescuers, search for workers believed buried in the rubble of a building that collapsed late Saturday during monsoon rains on the outskirts of Chennai, India, Monday, June 30, 2014. Image copyright AP
Image caption Most of those trapped under the rubble are thought to be workers from a neighbouring state

The death toll in a building collapse in the southern Indian city of Chennai has risen to 24, reports say.

Some 24 survivors have so far been pulled from the rubble, and 20 others are feared trapped in the debris.

More than 70 workers were in the 11-storey building which was under construction when it toppled in heavy rain late on Saturday.

India has seen frequent building collapses, many blamed on lax safety and substandard materials.

At least six people, including construction company officials, have been arrested in connection with the collapse in Chennai (Madras), the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Dr K Kulandaisamy, a senior health official of Tamil Nadu, told the NDTV news channel that 15 of the dead had been identified.

The dead were mainly construction workers from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state and were in the building to collect their wages, reports say.

On Monday, two workers, including a woman, were pulled alive from rubble by rescue workers, reports say.

The woman is being treated for a head injury at the hospital, a hospital spokesperson told Press Trust of India news agency.

Hundreds of rescue workers, including personnel from India's National Disaster Response Force, are working with cutters, shovels and other equipment to search for survivors.

"The building has come down like a stack of cards," Karuna Sagar, a senior police officer, told AFP news agency.

While the cause of the latest collapse is still under investigation, a lack of construction codes, leading to lax safety, is one reason for frequent collapses of buildings and other infrastructure projects in India.

There is also a high demand for housing, pushing up costs and forcing less affluent people to risk their lives in decrepit or badly constructed buildings.

Earlier on Saturday, a four-storey building came down in the capital Delhi, killing 10 people, including five children.

In January, at least 14 people died when a building under construction came crashing down in the western state of Goa.

At least 42 people died after a four-storey building collapsed in Mumbai last September.

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