Rescuers in India were searching on Wednesday for at least five people believed to be trapped under rubble after a four-storey residential building collapsed in the northern city of Lucknow.
At least 30 people were living in the Alaya apartment block in the Hazratganj area when it collapsed late on Tuesday. There were 12 flats and two penthouses on the top floor.
Authorities immediately sent teams from disaster response and the police to the site and 15 people were pulled out of the rubble overnight.
There were no clear figures on the number of people trapped or fatalities.
The rescue teams slipped two oxygen cylinders into holes drilled to reach the trapped people. Water is also being supplied through pipes to those trapped inside.
Dog squads, drill machines and excavators were being used for the operation.
“Operations will go on for at least five hours more,” said DS Chauhan, a senior police officer.
The survivors were rushed to government hospitals where doctors said they had suffered superficial injuries and trauma due to shock. But their conditions were stable.
“Initially, we heard sounds that resembled that of something cracking,” Shah Jahan, one of the survivors, told a local newspaper. “Within the next few minutes, the entire building came down.”
While it is unclear what caused the collapse, preliminary reports indicate that the building had weak foundations and might have collapsed because of construction work in the basement.
Police on Wednesday detained a former cabinet minister’s son who owned the land on which the apartments were built 12 years ago.
The building plan was reportedly not approved by the authorities.
The city was also jolted by tremors hours before the building collapsed, after a magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck western Nepal.
The tremors were felt in most parts of northern India, including the capital New Delhi.