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India: At least 19 dead after roof collapses

January 3, 2021

Officials say the death toll could rise as the search for survivors continues. Many of those who perished were attending a funeral near New Delhi and sought cover to evade heavy rainfall when disaster struck.

Emergency workers search for survivors in rubble after a roof collapse
The search for survivors continues after a roof collapsed at a cremation ground in northern IndiaImage: AFP/Getty Images

At least 19 people died on Sunday when the roof of a shelter at a cremation facility in northern India collapsed, police said.

Teeming rain had forced roughly 40 people, many of whom were attending a funeral, to seek cover in the town of Muradnagar, Uttar Pradesh, only for the shelter to collapse due to the downpour, according to divisional commissioner Anita C Meshram.

The death toll could rise as some of the wounded sustained serious injuries, area police chief Iraj Raja told Germany's dpa news agency.

"The roof at the cremation compound, over some 30 meters long, collapsed suddenly and 38 people were trapped. Nineteen people were killed on the scene or while being taken to two hospitals nearby," Raja said.

Investigators seek answers

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences as rescue workers continued to search for survivors in the rubble.

"The sad news of the unfortunate accident in Muradnagar, Uttar Pradesh, has caused great sorrow. The state government is engaged in relief and rescue work. I express my condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives in this accident, as well as wish the injured to get well soon," Modi said.

The reason the roof collapsed under heavy rain was not immediately clear, but authorities said they had launched an investigation into the incident.

"We will conduct an inquiry into the matter and find who is responsible — whether it is the builder, officials, or workers of the municipal council, as soon as possible," commissioner Meshram said.

India's frontline workers

jsi/nm (dpa, Reuters)