At least 14 people were killed in the Indian city of Sambhal in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after the roof of a potato cold storage warehouse split open and collapsed on the inhabitants inside the facility, officials said on Friday.
A total of 24 people were pulled out of the rubble of the cold storage facility in the Chandausi area in the eastern state’s Sambhal city, of which 14 succumbed to their injuries, police officials said.
Witnesses said that the dilapidated warehouse’s roof collapsed on Thursday morning around 11.30am when there were workers inside.
Visuals of the incident showed dozens of filled up sacks containing potatoes on top of rubble as the local authorities brought scavenging machines to sift through the massive pile of concrete and potatoes.
The farm workers were buried under sacks of potatoes as rescuers scoured the rubble for survivors.
The federal disaster team – the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) – and the State Disaster Response Force were roped in by Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government to bring out workers trapped inside the warehouse, officials said.
Deputy inspector general of police Shalabh Mathur said that almost all the missing workers were located and the rescue operations had reached its last phase, reported Indian daily The Tribune.
Officials also deployed sniffer dogs to find the workers trapped under the debris, the district magistrate Manish Bansal said, reported Indian news channel NDTV.
Of the injured, four are undergoing medical treatment at a hospital in Moradabad district while six others have been discharged.
State chief minister Yogi Adityanath has announced an ex-gratia of ₹ 200,000 (£1,989) for the kin of the deceased and ₹50,000 (£500) for those injured, along with free treatment of all.
Authorities have filed a police complaint against the owner of the cold storage facility and other two people associated with the property amid allegations that the roof was reconstructed some months back but not in adherence to the safety protocols.
“We have detained four people for questioning. The main accused are missing and are being searched. We will be able to tell the real reason for the collapse of this building only after the debris is removed,” superintendent of police Chakresh Mishra said, reported NDTV.