India chimney collapse toll up to 40; many missing

The collapse of a chimney following a lightning strike in Korba in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh traps more than 100 construction workers and kills at least 25 of them.

The first 100 m of the chimney which was under construction by Bharat Aluminium Co Ltd (BALCO) collapsed on top of more than 100 workers, with twenty-five deaths initially recorded. Between fifty and seventy of the workers are still trapped beneath the rubble, meaning the death toll could still rise; as of 25 September, 40 bodies have been recovered.

Construction plans specify a 275-metre (900 ft) chimney for a thermal power plant being constructed by Balco, which is owned by Vedanta Resources.  The incident happened during extreme weather conditions involving lightning and torrential rainfall. Workers sought shelter from the rain in a nearby store room. A lightning strike at approximately 16:00 brought the chimney down on top of them.

A rescue attempt was initiated following the collapse. Ongoing rain is obstructing efforts to rescue trapped workers.At least seven of the wounded were hospitalised. An employee was allegedly thrashed to death as well; his corpse was located near the scene. It was originally thought he had fallen from the chimney but suspicions were raised when wounds indicated he had been attacked. Five cranes are involved in the rescue efforts. Family members have gathered at the scene to wait for news of their loved ones.



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