Building collapse kills 8 in India after monsoon rains

Photo: AFP

A three-story building collapsed after monsoon rains hit a hilly area of northern India, killing at least eight people, officials said Monday.

Rescuers were looking for half a dozen people, including some soldiers, still unaccounted for following Sunday's collapse.

Several soldiers were among the 31 people rescued since the collapse occurred in the town of Solan, 310 kilometers (195 miles) north of New Delhi.

Police officer Vinod, who uses one name, said the dead included seven army soldiers and one civilian.

Most of the people affected were sitting in a ground floor restaurant in the building when it collapsed because of a weakened foundation, said Jai Ram Thakur, Himachal Pradesh state's top elected leader.

The soldiers were having a party in the restaurant when the building shook and collapsed in no time, the Press Trust of India news agency, or PTI, quoted an injured soldier as saying.

Another injured person, Rakesh Kumar, said dozens of soldiers and other customers were in the building, along with restaurant workers.

"We thought it was a quake and did not know how the building collapsed.

We were trapped under the debris. I remained trapped for about 10-15 minutes before some people rescued me," PTI quoted Kumar as saying.

More than 70 rescuers from the National Disaster Response Force used drillers and gas cutters to clear the rubble, said Krishan Kumar, an NDRF spokesman.

Building collapses are common in India during the June-September monsoon season, when heavy rains weaken the foundations of structures that are poorly constructed.

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