Rescue operations continued on Thursday night as nine bodies, including that of women and a toddler, were so far pulled out from the debris of the two adjacent buildings that collapsed in Greater Noida on the outskirts of Delhi, officials said.
A six-floor under-construction building crashed on a five-storey building next to it, bringing it down as well, in Shahberi village under Bisrakh police station area on Tuesday night.
The ninth body was retrieved from the rubble on Thursday morning, while the other eight were pulled out until late on Wednesday night, Greater Noida Deputy Superintendent of Police Avneesh Kumar told PTI.
The deceased have been identified as family members Shiv Trivedi, 32, Priyanka Trivedi, 35, Pankhuri (one year), Rajkumari (mother, age unavailable).
Ranjeet Bhuimaali, 45, from West Bengal, Shamshad, 24, Naushad, 30, Mohammad Mobeen, 24 -- all three from Faizabad in UP, and Mujaahid, 20, Kumar said.
"As of now, the rescue operation is continuing," a senior NDRF official said on Thursday night.
The National Disaster Response Force has mounted the rescue operation along with the police and the fire department.
Rescuers have deployed heavy machinery to shift concrete slabs and used drills in a bid to reach people buried under the debris. Sniffer dogs were trying to detect signs of life.
Meanwhile, the police have arrested five people in connection with the case. Kumar said the fifth accused was arrested today near Tigri roundabout in Greater Noida and he has been identified as Qasim, the project's contractor.
Raids were being conducted to arrest the rest of the accused, Kumar said.
Altogether, 24 people have been named in the FIR. Charges include culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Officer on Special Duty in Greater Noida Development Authority, Vibha Chahal, has been removed from her post.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered the suspension of two other officials, project manager V P Singh and assistant project manager Akhtar Abbas Zaidi, for dereliction of duty.
Adityanath has asked the Meerut divisional commissioner to conduct an inquiry and determine the extent of illegal construction in the area.
Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate Brajesh Narayan Singh has also ordered an investigation, to be completed within 15 days.
NDRF Director General Sanjay Kumar said yesterday rescuers were exercising caution in operating the machines so that those trapped under the debris were not harmed.
This was leading to the delay, he said.