NEW DELHI - Rescuers plucked two survivors from the ruins of a collapsed apartment block in southern India on Monday as they raced against the clock to find dozens more people feared trapped in the rubble.
The confirmed death toll from Saturday's disaster on the outskirts of Chennai rose to 18 as authorities blamed shoddy construction for what was the second deadly building collapse in India within a matter of hours.
Reports said that the two people rescued on Monday morning included a 35-year-oldfemale construction worker who was one of several dozen entombed by amass of concrete on Saturday night.
The woman had suffered a head injury, a hospital spokesman told the Press Trust of India news agency. A male co-worker was also being treated in hospital.
Emergency teams used mechanical diggers and heavy-cutting equipment to try and find more survivors in the ruins of what was a partially-built 11-storey complex.
The exact number of people still missing is not known but reports say as many as 40 could be trapped in the rubble. Around 20 people have so far been rescued since the late night disaster.
Karuna Sagar, a senior officer with the Tamil Nadu state police force, said the rescue operation was being complicated by fears that the removal of debris could cause "the whole thing (to) collapse".
"There is all the possibility that there will be survivors, that is why we are going in a very systematic manner," he told the NDTV network.
"The rescue team is cutting open boulders and going in with oxygen and lights...There may be pockets where some person (is still) alive", he added from the site of the disaster.