Rescue work halted, Goa toll is 17

Panaji, Jan 6 : Rescue work at the site of a building which crashed in Goa killing 17 people was stopped Monday after two nearby buildings developed cracks and appeared to be on the brink of collapse.

An under-construction building in Canacona, 80 km from here, collapsed Saturday afternoon. Of the 25 labourers pulled out from under the rubble by rescue workers Sunday, 17 were dead.

At least 20 people are feared to be stuck under the rubble.

An official said rescue workers as well as heavy machinery used to reach the victims still trapped under the debris had been moved to a safe location for the time being.

"The cracks in nearby buildings due to the collapse of the five-storey structure have widened. We are taking all precautions and have moved the machinery and stopped rescue work for the moment," the official said.

He said specialists had been called to inspect the risk from the cracks in the two other buildings, also a part of the same residential complex, Ruby Residency, promoted by a Navi Mumbai-based real estate firm.

"The area has been cordoned off," Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohan Naik said, adding that people in the two buildings which had developed cracks and in the vicinity had been evacuated.

Officials say the chances of survival of the nearly 20 people feared buried under the rubble were slim.

The trapped labourers are reportedly buried within a large cavity created by a fallen slab.

An official who requested anonymity said: "A lot of cries could be heard from inside the debris Saturday afternoon, immediately after the collapse.

"By Sunday evening the shouting subsided. There are no sounds from those who are trapped," he added.

A mangled body was taken out Sunday night, taking the death toll to 17.

The building collapse reportedly trapped more than 50 labourers and security guards.

Nearly 40 hours after the accident, neither the state administration nor police can confirm the number trapped under the debris. No arrest has been made so far.

A police complaint has been filed against the builder, contractor, site engineer and municipal authorities who sanctioned the construction.

"The police have not arrested anyone yet. But they will soon," Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar told reporters Monday.

--IANS (Posted on 06-01-2014)

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