delhi-apartment

An injured woman is carried to an ambulance from a collapsed apartment building in New Delhi, India, on Monday. ((Mustafa Quraishi/Associated Press))

Police and rescuers raced Tuesday to pull survivors from the debris of a four-storey apartment building that collapsed in a congested neighborhood in New Delhi, killing at least 61 people and injuring scores of others.

The 15-year-old building housing about 200 people — mostly migrant workers and their families — collapsed Monday evening into a mountain of concrete slabs, iron rods, bricks and mortar in New Delhi's Lalita Park neighborhood.

About 30 people were believed still trapped under the rubble, said New Delhi's top elected official, Sheila Dikshit, and emergency efforts were hampered because fire trucks had difficulty navigating the neighbourhood's narrow alleyways.

At least 61 people were killed and 78 injured, said city police official Mohammed Akhlaq.

Used bare hands to move debris

Residents who were first to arrive at the accident site used bare hands to scoop away debris until they were joined by police and firefighters, who used gas cutters to sever the iron rods. Police brought in sniffer dogs to locate people trapped under the debris.

Residents helped carry the injured to vehicles and to transport them to hospitals, as hundreds of people crowded around or peered down from rooftops of nearby buildings.

Dikshit said it was not immediately possible to say what caused the accident but said there would be an inquiry.

"The scale of the tragedy is unprecedented. I don't think such a tragedy has taken place in Delhi in the recent past," Press Trust of India quoted her as saying.