Builders appear in Indian court over deadly collapse

MUMBAI (AFP) - Two builders arrested over the deadly collapse of a seven-storey apartment block that killed 74 people appeared in court on Sunday in western India.

Jamil Qureshi and Salim Sheikh had fled after the illegal structure in Thane district on the outskirts of Mumbai collapsed on Thursday evening but were arrested by police a day later.

The pair, along with seven others arrested in connection with the tragedy, were remanded in judicial custody till April 20, police said.

"Apart from the builders, we have also arrested some public servants who were involved in this. The builders had bribed them," Thane police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi told a press conference.

"Whoever is responsible for this building collapse incident, even if they are government officials, will be brought to justice." The builders have been slapped with a series of charges, including criminal conspiracy and endangering life and the safety of others.

In a similar deadly collapse in 2010, 69 people were killed in New Delhi in a cave-in.

Most of the victims of the Thane tragedy were poor daily wage earners working at the site and their families. The dead included 30 children and 18 women.

The collapse of the partly-finished building highlighted widespread shoddy building standards in India. There is huge demand for housing and pervasive corruption often means cost-cutting and no safety inspections.