Toll in Jalandhar factory accident rises to 23

Jalandhar, April 22 (IANS) With rescue teams recovering more bodies Sunday, the death toll in the blanket factory collapse in Jalandhar has risen to 23.

A majority of those killed in the factory collapse were migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Rescue teams, comprising the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the army, and Punjab Police personnel and private volunteers were still trying to reach certain areas of the debris of the collapsed factory but hopes of finding any survivors had become almost nil.

The four-storeyed building of the blanket manufacturing unit, Shital Fibres, had collapsed late Sunday night in Jalandhar's Focal Point industrial area, 150 km from Chandigarh.

NDRF officials said that nearly 65 people had been rescued from under the debris. Two of the rescued workers were taken out after being trapped under the debris for nearly 72 and 55 hours respectively.

While most of the survivors had been discharged from hospital after medical treatment, some of the victims have to suffer amputation of the legs after being injured seriously.

NDRF commandant R.K. Verma said that the rescue teams were trying to locate bodies under the debris before heavy machinery is pressed into service to clear the heavier portions of the collapsed structure.

'There is very little hope of finding any survivors. There is a lot of smell coming out of the debris as bodies are highly decomposed. We are trying to retrieve some of these bodies before the debris is removed,' Verma said.

Police have already arrested the factory owner Shital Vij. The factory contractor and three other people have also been arrested following the building collapse.