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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Punjab factory collapse: Owner held, many trapped

IANS  Jalandhar (Punjab), April 17, 2012
First Published: 09:33 IST(17/4/2012) | Last Updated: 09:51 IST(17/4/2012)

Prominent industrialist Sheetal Vij has been arrested after a factory building owned by him collapsed, leaving at least six workers dead and many trapped under the debris, police said on Tuesday as rescue teams continued to hunt for survivors.

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Vij was arrested on Monday night and booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The Punjab government has ordered a probe by a senior officer into the collapse of the four-storeyed building of Sheetal Fabrics, a blanket manufacturing unit, Sunday night.

Rescue efforts continued through Monday night and early Tuesday to find any survivors. Dog squads and gas cutters were being used to locate trapped people.

A massive rescue operation has been mounted by various agencies, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Punjab Police, army and local authorities.

While district authorities confirmed two people dead, NDRF officials said their teams had seen at least four more bodies buried under the collapsed factory’s debris in Focal Point area of Jalandhar, about 150 km from the state capital Chandigarh.

At least 55 people had been rescued after search operations began early Monday, police said.

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal ordered the Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the reasons for the collapse. Badal announced a compensation of Rs. 200,000 to the kin of each of the dead.

There was speculation that over 200 workers were trapped and many feared killed under the debris of the building.

Deputy Commissioner Priyank Bharti said neither the administration nor the factory owners had a clear idea on how many workers, mostly migrants from other states, were still trapped under the flattened factory building.

"From the given information, 60-70 workers were inside the factory when the building collapsed," Bharti said on Monday.

Vij, an influential social figure of this Punjab city, which is better known for its sports industry and enterprising trading community, has other factories adjoining the one which collapsed.

The safety certification of the collapsed factory had expired over a year ago and had not been renewed. The factory building was constructed four-five years ago.


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