11 dead, 50 rescued after India building collapse

Building collapses are frequent in India. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 March 2019

11 dead, 50 rescued after India building collapse

  • Many firms use cheap materials and bribe officials to evade regulations, while on-site safety is lax
  • Police have charged the builder with manslaughter but he remains free

NEW DELHI: Eleven people were confirmed dead on Thursday three days after a building under construction in southern India caved in, officials said.
Building collapses are frequent in India. Many firms use cheap materials and bribe officials to evade regulations, while on-site safety is lax.
Around 400 rescuers have been scouring through tons concrete and steel after the latest tragedy in Karnataka state on Tuesday.
Fifty-three people have been rescued from the rubble of the five-story building in Dharwad district, but three more bodies were pulled out on Thursday.
“At least 15 people are possibly still under the debris and it’s unlikely they will survive,” emergency official Srikant, who goes by one name, told AFP.
Heavy earth-movers and rescuers with specialized equipment and sniffer dogs were deployed in the increasingly desperate operation.
The victims were mostly from northern Indian states who came to the region for work.
Police have charged the builder with manslaughter but he remains free, with investigators saying he will be arrested after the rescue operation is over.
Last September, five people were killed after a Delhi apartment block collapsed. Months earlier, a six-story building in the capital had given way, killing nine.
Millions of Indians, who will vote in elections in April and May, live in dilapidated old buildings, many of which are susceptible to collapse during rain.


Afghan vice president vows ‘no mercy’ in violent crime fight

Updated 24 October 2020

Afghan vice president vows ‘no mercy’ in violent crime fight

  • Former spy chief leads campaign after thefts, abductions sweep capital

KABUL: A security campaign spearheaded by Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh has been launched in Kabul following an outcry among residents over a recent surge in violent crime.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Aryan said a mass manhunt began on Friday involving over 20,000 posters and photographs of hundreds of wanted criminals in the capital.

“These people have been involved in numerous crimes such as theft, armed robbery, abductions and killings and we are urging citizens to inform the police of their whereabouts,” he told Arab News.

Aryan said that Saleh’s extensive security experience as the country’s former spy chief will help him bring the situation under control.

When he assumed the new role last week, Saleh said in a Facebook post that he would take responsibility for security in the city and would show “no mercy” to criminals.

The vice president’s new security role comes after the Taliban distributed leaflets in parts of Kabul, promising citizens that they would patrol and arrest criminals, and sentence them in their own courts.

The recent spike in crime has also pushed residents to launch a social media campaign using the hashtag #Kabulisnotsafe. Some demanded severe punishment, such as dismemberment for robbery, which was imposed under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 and led to a fall in crime figures.

Fawzia Nasiryar, a lawmaker from Kabul, said she and other legislators have received complaints from constituents over surging crime. Muggings and violent robberies even occur in broad daylight, she added.

Several attacks have led to deaths, she said.

Criminals have also targeted vulnerable groups, including children. Earlier this month thieves entered a high school to rob students, Nasiryar said.

“We hope that the vice president’s efforts will produce results and we witness a drop in the number of crimes,” she told Arab News, but added that it will be difficult to keep crime at bay when the war-torn country’s economy is so poor.

“As long as the economy is bad and there is joblessness, we won’t see improvement in the situation. Sadly, in a society where one person is rich out of 100 people, you will naturally see a rise in crimes.”

However, the increasing crime rate has also disrupted economic activity.

Jan Aqa Naweed, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Chambers of Commerce, told Arab News that surging crime in recent years has prompted hundreds of Afghan businessmen to leave the country, taking their capital and investments with them.

Some analysts argue that the vice president’s intervention is a mere public relations effort and will fail to achieve a lasting impact.

Wahidullah Ghazikhail said the security campaign only seeks to address public anger.

“This will have a temporary impact and is aimed at calming down the anger and sentiments of people,” he said.