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Chennai building collapse: Death toll 61, rescue work over

July 04, 2014 20:12 IST

Seven days after a 11-storeyed under construction building collapsed in Chennai, rescuers called off their massive non-stop operations today as the death toll was put at 61 with no survivor or body being found during the day.

Twenty seven persons -- 19 men and eight women -- were pulled out alive till July 1 from the concrete rubbles after the residential building collapsed on June 28 at suburban Porur, about 20 km from Chennai. The site has been sealed and handed over to the police, a top state revenue official said.

"We have completed the rescue work. There are no more survivors or persons trapped," said S P Selvan, deputy inspector general of National Disaster Response Force, which spearheaded the rescue operations in coordination with various other agencies including the Fire and Rescue Service and the police.

On apprehension that approximately 20-25 persons could have been trapped in a particular spot measuring about 2000 sq ft close to the basement, he said "I can tell you that the rescue work is over 100 per cent, there is no such thing."

The toll in the mishap rose to 61 on Friday with the recovery of 14 bodies with the breakup being 41 men and 20 women, several of them migrant workers from states such as Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

"The site is sealed, cordoned off and it has been handed over to the police," Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner of Revenue Administration T S Sridhar told media persons after chairing a meeting of officials from multiple agencies including the NDRF.

"This site has been declared as a prohibited place. Only authorised personnel involved in investigation can access it till the completion of probe," he said. Director of Public Health K Kulandaisamy said eight bodies were yet to be identified.

The injured persons were being discharged "one by one" from various hospitals based on their health condition, he added.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday announced a one-man commission of inquiry headed by retired Madras high court judge Justice R Reghupathy to probe the circumstances that led to the collapse of the building, promoted by developers ‘Prime Srushti’.

Another 11-storeyed building, built as a 'twin block' along with the collapsed structure, has also been cordoned off. Officials who have inspected the building are likely to come out with a final report on its stability later after which it will be decided if it has to be demolished, officials said.

Meanwhile, Kancheepuram District Revenue officials indicated compensation would be "considered according to rules," for three houses in the vicinity that were damaged when the rubble from the 11-storied building fell on these houses.

The cause of the collapse was yet to be known though the developers had initially claimed lightning strike triggered the mishap, one of the worst of its kind in the city in recent times. Six persons, including two owners of the promoter company and two engineers, had been arrested under various sections of the Indian Penal Code in connection with the collapse.

Jayalalithaa has announced an ex-gratia of Rs seven lakh each to the kin of the deceased from the state. Similar reliefs had been extended by her Andhra Pradesh and Odisha counterparts in respect of those killed from their states.

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