The death toll in the chimney collapse at an under-construction power plant of metal major BALCO has risen to 36, even as rescue operations continued for the third day on Friday in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district, officials said.

Bodies of 36 labourers were taken out and efforts were on to clear the debris, Korba District Superintendent of Police Ratanlal Dangi told PTI .

Twenty-six bodies were removed on Thursday.

Many are feared trapped under the debris, he said, adding it is not known how many of them were engaged in work when the chimney caved in.

`Baseless'

Meanwhile, BALCO Chief Executive Officer Gunjan Gupta denied allegations that the company was not cooperating in the rescue operation. “The allegations are baseless,” he said.

Mr. Gupta said Rs. five lakh each would be given to next of the kin of the deceased.

Korba police registered a case under IPC sec 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against BALCO management and GDCL company, which was entrusted with the responsibility of erecting the chimney.

The reasons for the chimney collapse is under investigation.