The collapse of the 11-storey building in the western suburb of Moulivakkam here on Saturday triggered one of the largest rescue operations in the city involving over a thousand workers from various departments, even as the death toll went up to 14 on Sunday evening.
More deaths are feared as scores of people are still trapped under the debris.
Though unconfirmed estimates put the number of workers trapped at the disaster site at around 100, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who visited the accident spot as well as the hospital where the rescued workers are being treated, said around 72 workers were working at the site when it collapsed.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said: “There was nothing wrong with the plan that was submitted for approval but the builders knowingly committed many violations and did not adhere to the plan that was approved. It is too early to say exactly what went wrong but there appears to have been a big structural defect which is apparent in the adjoining building also which is being constructed by the same company. Tests have to be conducted whether the soil is capable of bearing such a huge weight.”
“Rescue operations have been going on non-stop since last [Saturday] evening,” she added. Of the 32 persons recovered from the debris, 12 are dead and the remaining are undergoing medical care. The Tamil Nadu government has announced a solatium of Rs. two lakh for the families of each of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to the injured.
On Sunday, the police arrested six persons — including the managing director and senior engineers of Prime Sristi Housing Private Limited — who were directly involved in the construction of the ‘Trust Heights’ residential apartments.
One of the two blocks in the complex collapsed on Saturday. The police, in a statement, said preliminary investigation revealed there was no coordination between the architect, structural engineers and site engineers over the execution of the residential project.