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6 Arrested in Indian Building Collapse

Thursday, July 3, 2014

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Six builders are under arrest, dozens of construction workers are dead, and others remain missing after the catastrophic collapse of a building under construction in Chennai, India.

The death toll in Saturday's 11-story collapse reached 47 on Wednesday (July 2), with 27 survivors pulled from the rubble, BBC News reported.

The accident was the second deadly building collapse within hours in India.

V. Ganesan via @purushueme / Twitter

Construction worker Vikas Singh Pan, 26, was rescued Tuesday (July 1) after being trapped 72 hours in the rubble of the collapsed building in Chennai, India.

Monsoon rains are blamed for weakening the building's foundation, but political party leaders pointed the finger at  local permitting authorities and the builder, The Times of India reported.

Investigation Underway

Although the investigation had scarcely begun, criticism of the project began immediately.

"It is not known how the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority accorded permission to an 11-story building," PMK party leader S. Ramadoss said in a statement to the news outlet. The site was suitable only for a five-story building, officials said.

@karthickselvaa / Twitter

Photos posted on Twitter show the accident's impact on the Chennai skyline.

"It is also known that there are problems with the material used in the construction," Ramadoss added. He also said engineers on the project were inexperienced.

Another local official reported structural defects in the building.

Authorities had approved the building plan of the collapsed tower, "but it seems the builder either deviated from the approved plan or used substandard material,” Dr. T.S. Sridhar, a disaster management commissioner in Tamil Nadu state, told The New York Times. “The exact cause of the building collapse will be known after the inquiry.”

Engineers, Architect, Executives Held

Even as the search for survivors continued, police arrested six people in connection with the collapse. They included engineers and executives with Trust Heights developer Prime Sristi Housing Pvt Ltd, Madurai.

@karthickselvaa / Twitter

Six people were arrested after the collapse, including the developer's managing director.

According to The Times of India, homicide charges were filed against the developer’s managing director, M. Manoharan, 60; his son, director Muthu Kamatchi, 30; architect Vijay Bargotra, 52, structural engineer Venkatasubramani; and site engineers Sankar Ramakrishnan and Duraisingam.

Waiting for Wages

More than 70 contract workers from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and various northern states were waiting to collect their weekly wages in the basement of the building when it came crashing down at 4.40 p.m. Saturday, Sridhar told The Times of India.

India's National Disaster Response Force said it was using 10 Urban Search and Rescue Teams comprising more than 400 personnel in the rescue and recovery effort.

2nd Collapse

The Chennai accident came hours after a building collapse in New Delhi killed at least 10 people. That building was a four-story structure illegally constructed decades ago, officials said.

@anna_isaac/Twitter

Hundreds of personnel from the National Disaster Response Force searched for survivors in Chennai just hours after another building collapsed in New Delhi.

The Chennai accident came hours after a building collapse in New Delhi killed at least 10 people. That building was a four-story structure illegally constructed decades ago, officials said.

Most homes in that part of the capital were built without permission and using substandard materials, police officer Madhur Verma told The Times.

The collapse was partly attributed to construction work on an adjoining building.

   

Tagged categories: Architects; Commercial Construction; Construction; Design; Developers; Engineers; Health and safety; International Building Code

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