The death toll in the multi-storey building collapse near Chennai rose to nine on Sunday as four more bodies were recovered from the rubble, police said.
While the five bodies kept in a private hospital in Porur were identified on Sunday morning, another four bodies kept in Royapettah Government Hospital were yet to be identified, police said. Of the nine killed, three are women, they said, adding, a total of 18 persons have been rescued and are being treated in two government hospitals – 17 in a private hospital in Porur and one in Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital.
Of the five bodies identified, four of them are from Andhra Pradesh, they said.
However, there is no clarity on the number of people trapped inside the debris. "There is no clarity on the number of people trapped. Our initial priority is to rescue trapped people who are known to be inside. Clearing the debris is a big challenge, it would take two to three days," National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) DIG SP Selvan told reporters.
NDRF would use an advanced equipment to detect trapped people, he said, adding, 10 teams of the NDRF are already on the job.
Meanwhile, a control room has been started in Vizhianagaram by Collector Kantilal Dande in Andhra Pradesh following the mishap as many of the labourers working in the building are said to be from the district.
At least 14 people hailing from Vizianagaramwere believed to be working in the construction of the building.
Two directors of the construction company which had taken up the housing project were detained for questioning on Saturday.
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 on Saturday evening.Building firm Prime Sristi, which took up the residential project, claimed the mishap occurred due to impact of thunder.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Heavy Industries Pon Radhakrishnan visited the incident spot and oversaw the rescue operations. "We have advised the rescue teams to fasten their work. We are happy that at least 24 persons have been rescued. The licence given to the owners of the building must be cancelled", he told reporters.