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Apartment Building Collapses, Killing Seven, Trapping 10 More

July 28, 1995

CALCUTTA, India (AP) _ Part of a five-story apartment building collapsed into rubble early today while most of its residents slept. At least seven people were killed and 10 more were believed to be trapped inside.

Police and firefighters used shovels and their bare hands to rescue 10 people, one of them critically injured. They also found seven bodies, and 10 of the 150 people who lived in the building were missing.

``The whole building began to shiver and shake, then it tumbled down all around me,″ said Rekha Parekh, 14, who lived on the top floor and emerged bruised but otherwise unhurt from the 3:30 a.m. collapse.

``When I came to again, I was in total darkness. But I could hear my father shouting nearby. I cried out for help and neighbors who had rushed to the scene saved me and my family.″

Bulldozers were unable to reach the building, located on a narrow lane in a neighborhood crowded with both new and old apartment buildings. A crane got close enough to reach over the building with its boom and pick up large slabs of concrete.

D.C. Vajpayee, the joint commissioner of police, said the cause of the collapse was not known. But he said the 10-year-old structure in southern Calcutta may have been built with substandard materials.

A senior engineer at the Calcutta Municipal Corp., which approves all construction in the city, said on condition of anonymity that the apartment was illegally built atop an underground parking garage and rested on only two pillars.

Police arrested four employees of the construction company that built it. They also sought the owner of the company, but could not immediately locate him. Police did not immediately say on what charges the employees were arrested.

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