Death toll in Himachal building collapse climbs to 14

"The operation is still underway to find out if any other person is still trapped under the rubble"
Death toll in Himachal building collapse climbs to 14

Six more bodies were retrieved on Monday from the debris ofa building collapse in Himachal Pradesh' Solan district, taking the death tollto 14, officials said.

Twenty-eight people, including 17 Army personnel and 11civilians, were injured after the four-storey building, which housed arestaurant, collapsed on the Nahan-Kumarhatti Road on Sunday evening followingheavy rains, they said.

The bodies of 13 Army personnel and a civilian wereextricated from the debris, the officials said.

"The operation is still underway to find out if anyother person is still trapped under the rubble," Deputy Commissioner K CChaman said.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who visited the spot onMonday morning, said initial investigation has found that the structure was notbuilt up to specifications.

"A magisterial inquiry has already been ordered. Strictlegal action will be taken against erring persons after getting thereport," he said.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against theowner of the building, he added.

"There are more such buildings in the state. Ownershave constructed them without following building by-laws. Whatever is requiredto be done, will be done to check it," he said.

The chief minister said, "Necessary equipment wasairlifted on Sunday evening itself through a helicopter from Shimla's Sunni tocarry out the rescue work by the NDRF."

An injured soldier told reporters from the hospital thatwhen the building collapsed, there were 35 Army personnel inside it, of whom 30were Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs).

He said Army personnel belonging to the 4 Assam Regiment ofnearby Dagshai Cantonment went to the restaurant "to party as it was aSunday but suddenly the building shook and collapsed in no minutes".

Another injured person Rakesh Kumar, said that about 50people, including several Army personnel, restaurant staff and other customerswere in the building when it collapsed.

"We thought it was a quake and did not know how thebuilding collapsed and we were trapped under the debris. I remained trapped forabout 10-15 minutes after which some people rescued me," he added.

The Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) andpolice initially carried out the rescue operation.

Subsequently, two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)teams — one each from Haryana's Panchkula and Shimla's Sunni — reached thespot later in the night to carry out the rescue work, Director-cum-SpecialSecretary Revenue and Disaster Management, D C Rana told PTI.

A third NDRF team from Panchkula joined the rescue operationon Monday morning, he added.

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