India building collapse toll rises to five

NEW DELHI: Rescuers in the Indian capital on Sunday plucked the body of a little girl from the ruins of a collapsed four-storey building, increasing the death toll to five.

The body was discovered after workers in neon orange safety vests and hard hats used earth-moving equipment, shovels and bare hands to shift mangled heaps of steel and concrete from the building that caved in late Saturday in New Delhi.

"The body of the small girl was pulled out from the debris a little while ago," joint commissioner of New Delhi police Dependra Pathak told AFP, adding that eight others were injured in the incident.

"We've got our fingers crossed and hope there are no more bodies in the debris," he said, adding that rescue efforts would continue in the congested Vishnu Garden neighbourhood of ramshackle residential blocks in western Delhi.

Pathak said faulty drainage repair work in the area and rain had weakened the building, adding that the flouting of construction norms and "natural wear and tear" also contributed to the collapse.

"These buildings are really old and built by local, unqualified guys without any proper checks," leading to poor foundations and structural work, he said.

The Delhi government has ordered an investigation and a detailed report from the local administration within seven days, while a police complaint has been registered against "unknown persons" for causing death by negligence.

The accident is the latest in a long line of deadly building collapses in India, some of which have highlighted shoddy construction standards.

A massive influx of people to cities in search of jobs and a shortage of cheap housing have fuelled the construction of illegal buildings across the country, often with sub-standard material.

Millions also live in dilapidated old buildings, many of which cave in during rain.

In February a newly-built house in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh collapsed and killed 13 people as they slept.

An 11-storey apartment tower being built in Tamil Nadu came crashing down last July following heavy rain -- killing 61 people, mostly labourers.