Mumbai building collapse search ends, toll touches 72

Updated 07 April 2013
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Mumbai building collapse search ends, toll touches 72

MUMBAI: Authorities yesterday abandoned a search for more survivors from the collapse of a seven-story building on Mumbai’s outskirts that killed 72 people, saying there was no hope of finding anybody else alive.
The cave-in of the partly finished building highlighted widespread shoddy building standards in the country where there is huge demand for housing and pervasive corruption often means cost-cutting and no inspections.
“The rescue work is now over since there is no hope of finding any more survivors,” Sandeep Malvi, Thane municipal corporation spokesman, said.
“The death toll is now 72. About 36 are injured and undergoing treatment. At least 126 people have been rescued,” he added.
Most of the victims were poor daily wage earners working at the site and their families, who were living with them. The dead included 17 children and 22 women, a local government statement said.
The building collapse late on Thursday was the deadliest since 2010 when 69 people were killed in New Delhi in a similar incident.
A 65-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble late Friday after being trapped for almost 30 hours and was in stable condition in hospital, police said.
Police have arrested the two builders responsible for construction of the structure who had fled after the disaster and filed accusations of culpable homicide against them, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said.
The building’s floors collapsed directly on top of each other like a pack of cards — a phenomenon known as a “pancake collapse” — making rescue work even tougher, said Alok Awasthi, commandant of the National Disaster Response Force.
“We are reasonably sure there is nobody there,” Awasthi said after calling off the search.
Rescue workers used sledgehammers, chainsaws, hydraulic jacks and bulldozers to break through the mass of rubble in Thane district, 35 km from central Mumbai.
“We had to proceed very slowly as any mis-step would have pushed up the death toll,” Awasthi said, according to PTI.
The Maharashtra state government has announced a probe into the incident and suspended a top civic administrator and a police officer for dereliction of duty.
Building collapses are a common occurrence in India, where a fast-expanding economy and rising real estate prices have led to a mushrooming of multi-story structures on the outskirts of cities and towns.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said late Friday that Thane alone had 57 “very dangerous” buildings and 1,159 “dangerous buildings” that were illegal and in which nearly 88,000 people lived.
“Thousands of illegal buildings have come up in Mumbai but none have been demolished. They have come up without permission. It’s being done without taking structural precautions,” Mumbai lawyer and activist Yogesh Pratap Singh said.
“The time has come to make municipal officer accountable along with the builders,” Singh told India’s NDTV news channel.


British PM May: 'I will not break up my country for EU Brexit deal'

Updated 21 September 2018
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British PM May: 'I will not break up my country for EU Brexit deal'

  • Theresa May hits back with angry statement after EU leaders rejected May’s Chequers plan
  • Sterling plummets as both sides warn they are planning for a no-deal scenario

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday Brexit talks with the European Union had hit an impasse, defiantly challenging the bloc to come up with their own plans a day after the bloc’s leaders savaged her proposals.
At a summit in Austria on Thursday, EU leaders rejected May’s “Chequers” plan, saying she needed to give ground on trade and customs arrangements for the UK border with Ireland.
The British media said the response had left her proposals in tatters, and May angrily struck back in a televised address from her Downing Street office, saying neither side should expect the impossible from the other.
“Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect,” May said. “The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.”
Sterling extended its losses as May spoke, falling to as low as $1.3080, about 1.4 percent on the day, putting it on course for its biggest one-day drop this year, over growing fears Britain could leave the EU without any deal.
May has said the Chequers proposals for trade with the EU, which would resolve arguments over the border of Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic, were the only way forward. EU leaders in Salzburg repeated their view that the plans would undermine their cherished single market.
After the summit, EU leaders said they would push for an agreement next month, but both sides have warned they are planning for a no-deal scenario.
“It’s not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals,” May said. “So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are, what their alternative is, so that we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress.”
May, who commands a majority in parliament only with the support of a small pro-Brexit Northern Irish party, said she could not agree to any deal which treated Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the United Kingdom.
The EU insists that there can be no hard border between the British province and the Irish Republic, with Northern Ireland remaining in the bloc’s customs union or effectively establishing a border in the Irish Sea if no alternative deal is reached.
“I will not overturn the result of the referendum nor will I break up my country,” she said. “We need serious engagement on resolving the two main problems in the negotiations and we stand ready.”
However, she said no matter what happened, the rights of three million EU citizens living in the United Kingdom would be protected.
Earlier, her Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said some EU leaders had shown unstatesmanlike behavior in Salzburg.
“We’ve already compromised hugely with the Chequers proposals,” Raab told BBC TV. “What we’re not going to do is be salami sliced throughout this negotiation in a typical style that the EU engages in without movement on the other side.”
For the British media, the message from Salzburg had been clear. “Your Brexit’s broken,” the Daily Mirror newspaper said.
Newspapers led their front pages with a Reuters picture showing May, dressed in a red jacket, standing apparently aloof and alone from a mass of suited male EU leaders.
May faces a fight with angry Conservative lawmakers at her party’s annual conference from Sept. 30.
Many have voiced opposition to her plans, which they said would bind Britain into much EU regulation in return for free trade, and some would prefer a no-deal “hard Brexit” in March, despite warnings that would ravage the British economy.
“Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating strategy has been a disaster,” opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said. “The Tories have spent more time arguing among themselves than negotiating with the EU.
“The political games from both the EU and our government need to end because no deal is not an option.”
In response to May’s statement, the Confederation of British Industry and other business bodies said they wanted to see constructive dialogue, not rhetoric.
Last week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan added his voice to those including union and business leaders who said there should be a second Brexit referendum. Scotland’s top court ruled on Friday that the European Court of Justice should consider whether Britain could unilaterally change its mind on Brexit.
“The referendum was the largest democratic exercise this country has ever undergone,” said May, who has repeatedly ruled out a second vote following the original 2016 referendum. “To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy.”