Roundup: 3 arrested in India crematorium roof collapse as death toll rises to 25

2021-01-04 16:05:24 GMT2021-01-05 00:05:24(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

NEW DELHI, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Three people including an executive officer and a junior engineer of the municipality were arrested in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in connection with the roof collapse of a shelter at a cremation ground, police said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the death toll of the incident had risen to 25, and over a dozen people injured were undergoing treatment in hospitals.

"In connection with yesterday's roof collapse, a case has been registered in Muradnagar police station against five people and so far three people - executive officer municipality Niharika Singh, junior engineer Chandrapal and supervisor Ashish have been arrested," a senior police official said. "Further investigations in the case are underway."

Police said they were also looking for the contractor of the building.

The newly constructed roof collapsed on Sunday amid rains in Muradnagar of Ghaziabad district, about 550 km northwest of Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh.

According to officials, the mishap took place when several people who had come to participate in the funeral took shelter under the crematorium because of rains. The victims, all of them men, were mostly relatives and neighbors of a person, who was being cremated at that time.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered an inquiry into the incident from commissioner Meerut.

Locals said rescue workers sifted through the building's rubble for hours to ensure no person remained trapped underneath and pulled out all the bodies. A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was also sent to the spot.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the deaths.

"I express my condolences to the near and dear ones of those who lost their lives in this accident, and also hope for a quick recovery of the injured," Modi wrote on social media.

Preliminary investigations reveal prima facie structural defect appears to have led to the roof collapse.

Deadly accidents due to failing infrastructure, either new or old, are common in India. Construction experts blame the lax administration and corruption in India for flouting building rules that often results in using poor quality materials, inadequate supervision and poor safety standards for workers. Enditem