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Twenty Killed in Bombay Building Collapse

March 8, 1996

BOMBAY, India (AP) _ Rescue workers with handkerchiefs covering their faces dug 20 bodies from the concrete mountain of a collapsed five-story apartment block and searched for as many as nine missing residents.

At least eight families lived in the building that collapsed Thursday night. 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.

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

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

About 100 rescue workers with brightly colored bandanas protecting their faces against clouds of dust continued to search for survivors today.

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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