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Fifteen Dead In Bombay Building Collapse

March 8, 1996

BOMBAY, India (AP) _ Rescue workers dug 15 bodies from the concrete mountain of a collapsed five-story apartment block today and raced back to search for as many as 20 missing residents.

At least eight families lived in the Bombay neighborhood building that collapsed at about 8:35 p.m. Thursday. The cause was under investigation.

``It just folded up with a loud noise,″ said Shankar Nirmal, a travel agent who lives opposite the destroyed building in Sion, a middle-class area of India’s largest city.

Another neighbor said it sounded like two trains colliding.

Nine people were admitted to a nearby hospital; seven others were discharged after treatment for slight injuries.

``The death toll will probably cross 30,″ said D.J. Kulkarni, Bombay’s chief fire officer, who was directing the search for people still feared trapped.

More than 300 rescue workers with brightly colored bandanas protecting their faces against clouds of dust continued to search for survivors today. Ambulances waited.

Anxious relatives clambered over unsteady mounds of rubble and twisted steel girders, searching for survivors and recovering valuables. They picked their way between mangled furniture, remnants of clothing and kitchen utensils.

A transport company had been renovating the first two floors of the 30-year-old building for its new offices, replacing some beams and columns. That could have led to structural damage and the collapse, said S. R. Dange, a city commissioner.

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