Indian rescuers pulled two more bodies from the rubble of a collapsed apartment block, taking the death toll from the country's latest building accident to 17, an official said Monday.
The building, which was under construction, crumbled mid-afternoon on Saturday while more than 40 poorly paid daily-wage labourers were on site in the southern tourism state of Goa.
Rescue workers discovered the two bodies overnight Sunday as efforts continue around the clock to try to find survivors still trapped in the rubble of the building that a witness said collapsed like "a pack of cards". Although about 16 people are still unaccounted for, the official said the chances of finding survivors were slim given the length of time since the accident.
"Only a miracle can save them," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another 16 people were recovering in hospital, the official said. Rescue workers were using bulldozers, shovels and bare hands to try to shift concrete slabs and other debris from the site in the seaside village of Canacona, south of the state capital Panaji.
"The rescue work is tedious. You have to ensure that the nearby buildings don't get damaged and also the debris doesn't collapse further while digging in," the official said. Sniffer dogs have also been brought in to try to find those trapped. Goan police are searching for the builder and the contractor who have gone missing since the tragedy.
Officers have registered cases against them, and others involved in the building's construction, for allegedly endangering human life, causing death and negligence. The accident is the latest in a string of deadly building collapses in India, some of which have highlighted shoddy construction standards.
A huge demand for housing in India and pervasive corruption often result in cost-cutting and a lack of safety inspections. In September a rundown residential block in the financial hub Mumbai collapsed, killing 60 people. Another building collapse in the city in April killed 74. Panaji, India (AFP)