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29 Aug, 2007 02:40

Death toll rises following Baku building collapse

Everything built by the company responsible for a high-rise building that collapsed in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, killing at least five people, will now be inspected.

Rescuers have so far rescued nine people alive.

Eyewitnesses say cracks started to appear in the walls of the building, which was still under construction, seconds before the structure turned into a massive pile of rubble. It’s not known how many people were inside at the time, but different sources suggest it might have been as many as 40 or even 60.

“The accident occurred during the construction of the 14th floor. We've counted around 15 people under the debris. Every few minutes we call for silence to listen for their shouts, but unfortunately we've not managed to reach most of them yet,” Kamil Bagirov, a rescuer, says.  

Debris and dust from the collapsed building rained down on parked cars and three neighbouring high-rise blocks, which have also only recently been built . One of them now bears worrying cracks of its own. Tenants from that new building have been evacuated due to fears that a similar disaster could happen there.

Investigators have ruled out terrorism and believe the collapse may have happened because of poor safety precautions.

The Prosecutor General’s office is investigating the construction company, which did not have permission to build. Two of its top executives have already been arrested.