The death toll from the collapse of a three-storey building in the Himachal Pradesh’s Solan rose to seven after four more bodies, all Indian Army soldiers, were pulled out from debris during the rescue operation.
According to officials, the building housing a small eatery and a small guest house collapsed following heavy rains on Sunday afternoon when 30 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) of Assam Rifles, all from the nearby Dagshai cantonment, were eating lunch there.
Nearly 15 civilians, including the eatery’s staff, were also present inside the building on Nahan-Kumarhati Road near Solan, some 55km away from Chandigarh.
The dead now includes six soldiers of the Indian Army and the wife of the building’s owner, according to officials. The dead JCOs have been identified as Raj Kishore, Balwinder Singh, Vinod, Ajit Kumar, Pardeep Chand and Yogesh and the woman as Archana Devi.
Nearly 12 more people, including seven soldiers, were still feared trapped in the building. Twenty-seven people, including 17 soldiers and 10 civilians, have been rescued from the debris.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) official Ajay Verma, who is involved in the rescue operations, said the bodies retrieved from the debris were badly crushed. “We are praying for some life in the debris,” Verma said.
Solan’s deputy commissioner KC Chaman said many people are still trapped and search and rescue operation will continue for a few more hours. Cutting the cemented structure was taking time, he said.