34 dead in East Delhi building collapse


*Seventh floor was being added illegally to Building in lalita park.

*Over 100 migrant families were living in '15-year-old' structure*

*Flooded for weeks with river water, foundation had weakened

At least 34 people were killed and over 60 injured when a six-storey building collapsed on Monday night in Lalita Park near Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi. A seventh floor was being added illegally to the building in the unauthorised colony that had been regularised recently.

The building caved in around 8.15 pm in the congested locality. Some 60 people were rescued, but the police said scores were still feared trapped in the debris.

Until midnight, rescue and relief operations were on in full swing and a large number of people, many of them onlookers, had gathered in the area.

"The scale of the tragedy is unprecedented. I don't think such a tragedy has taken place in Delhi in the recent past," said Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Earlier, Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia said 32 people had been killed in the incident. Police Commissioner B K Gupta and medical officials said over 60 people were injured. The dead and the injured had been taken to Lok Nayak Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital and Hedgewar Hospital.

Most victims were migrants from West Bengal and Katihar in Bihar who were engaged in handicraft and artificial jewellery production. Some of them were daily wagers.

Finance Minister A K Walia, who is the MLA from the area, said the foundation of the old building could have weakened in the heavy rains when the Yamuna waters flooded the area. "We had been trying for several weeks to pump out water from the basement of the building. But each time we drained out the water, it would come back. The building, I believe, was not strong enough and collapsed under the pressure," Walia said.

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