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Building collapse in India leaves at least 65 dead

From Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
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Deadly building collapse in India
  • NEW: Officials worry that the death toll might rise to 70
  • About 80 other people were injured in Monday's collapse
  • Heavy monsoon rains apparently caused the collapse
  • The building might have been unauthorized, an official says
  • India
  • New Delhi

New Delhi, India -- The toll in the collapse of a five-story residential building in the Indian capital, New Delhi, climbed to at least 65 dead on Tuesday, officials said.

About 80 other people were injured in Monday's collapse, said New Delhi's fire-service chief, R.C. Sharma.

Emergency crews were still sifting through the rubble, after having pulled out people dead or alive, said New Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia.

Officials worried that the death toll might rise to 70.

Video from the scene showed residents digging through debris with construction equipment. Rescuers carried dust-covered victims to waiting vehicles.

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The building apparently collapsed because its foundations had weakened after exposure to water from this year's heavy monsoons, said City Municipal Spokesman Deep Mathur and Chief Minister of New Delhi Sheila Dikshit. The structure was situated closely to the Yamuna River, which flows through New Delhi.

"I believe it's an unauthorized building," Dikshit said. "I believe there was water in the bottom of the basement for many days."

She expressed sympathy for the families of the dead and promised to "inquire into the causes of the tragedy."

Encroachments on public land, illegally built structures and the use of residential buildings for commercial activities are common in New Delhi, which is home to about 17 million people. The weak enforcement of laws and corruption are generally blamed for unauthorized building.