Fourteen killed in building collapse as monsoon batters South Asia

An Indian rickshaw puller transporting commuters on a flooded street after a heavy downpour in Agartala, Tripura, on Sunday. Indian rescuers at the site of a four-storey building in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh which collapsed on Sunday, fo
Indian rescuers at the site of a four-storey building in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh which collapsed on Sunday, following days of heavy downpours. Such incidents are common across South Asia during the annual June to September monsoon.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
An Indian rickshaw puller transporting commuters on a flooded street after a heavy downpour in Agartala, Tripura, on Sunday. Indian rescuers at the site of a four-storey building in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh which collapsed on Sunday, fo
An Indian rickshaw puller transporting commuters on a flooded street after a heavy downpour in Agartala, Tripura, on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI • Fourteen people were killed when a building collapsed in northern India following heavy monsoon rains which left more than 100 dead across South Asia, officials said yesterday.

Floods and landslides caused by the annual deluge have wreaked deadly havoc from the Himalayan foothills to low-lying camps housing Rohingya refugees, with officials warning the tolls could rise as they scramble to reach affected communities.

In Bangladesh, at least 29 people have died in the past week, including 18 who were hit by lightning and seven who drowned after their boat capsized in choppy waters in the Bay of Bengal.

Another 10 have died in overcrowded Rohingya refugee camps in the south-east of the country, while thousands of shanty homes have been destroyed.

In the latest monsoon-related tragedy in India, a four-storey building on a hillside in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh collapsed, trapping those who had gathered for a party inside.

The structure - located near the popular tourist destination of Shimla - came down on Sunday following days of heavy downpours.

Rescue workers used heavy machinery to remove heaps of mangled steel and wires from the muddied debris, and managed to pull 28 survivors from the rubble.

A statement from the state chief minister's office said 14 people had died, all but one were soldiers.

One soldier who was pulled out from the rubble said the group had gathered for a party in the building's restaurant, "but suddenly the building shook and collapsed".

 
 

Such incidents are common across the region during the monsoon, which lasts from June to September, because of dilapidated structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.

Floods have also devastated much of the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, where four people died on Sunday.

In neighbouring Nepal, police said at least 67 have been killed in floods and landslides, while 30 more are missing.

In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, officials said at least 18 people were killed after heavy rain triggered flash floods and damaged more than 50 houses.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2019, with the headline 'Fourteen killed in building collapse as monsoon batters South Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe