The rescuers early on Thursday continued their search for survivors under the debris of an under-construction power plant chimney in Chhattisgarh of the Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) that caved in on Wednesday amid heavy rain, killing at least 20 labourers.
Dozens of people were waiting at the crash site to know the fate of their loved ones who were belived to be trapped under the rubbles. The workers were employed by the Gannon Dunkerley and Company Ltd (GDCL).
The under-construction chimney would have reached a height of 275-metres on completion but collapsed midway at a height of 100 metres on Wednesday afternoon. The chimney is being built for a 1,200 MW coal-fired power plant of Balco.
Meanwhile, the workers have protested against the Balco management and GDCL for alleged security lapses.
The tension, however, eased out after district authorities boosted police presence and assured the workers of stern action against Balco for "deadly lapses".
Korba district collector Ashok Agrawal said the toll could increase. "I estimate not less than 50 people, most of them workers, were still under the rubble."
District authorities have pressed several cranes to clear the debris and kept ambulances ready to take the injured people to hospital.
Chief Minister Raman Singh, who ordered a judicial probe into the tragedy, asked the police to register an FIR against the Balco management for negligence.
He has asked senior minister Brijmohan Agrawal to visit the accident site in Balco Nagar, some 250 km from Raipur, to oversee the rescue operation. The Balco aluminium complex is located in Korba town.
"It's a massive accident, we have retrieved 20 bodies so far, dozens are trapped, we are striving hard to pull out the survivors, if any, from the wreckage," Ratanlal Dangi, district superintendent of police told IANS.
The Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd holds 51 per cent stake in Balco while the remaining 49 per cent is owned by the government.
Sterlite has invested huge sums of money in the project to double its production capacity. Currently, Balco produces 345,000 tonnes of aluminium per annum.