14 Workers Crushed to Death by Potatoes and Debris in 'Tragic' Warehouse Collapse in India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences and wished the injured a speedy recovery after the roof caved in at a storage facility in the state of Uttar Pradesh

At least 14 workers in India have reportedly died after being crushed by potatoes and rubble when the roof of a cold storage warehouse collapsed.

A total of 24 people were pulled from the rubble at the facility in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where 14 died of injuries sustained in the accident, The Independent reports police officials saying.

Footage of the aftermath shows rescuers in the city of Sambhal looking through debris, as they moved bricks, bags of potatoes and other rubble to help clean up the scene and assist with the rescue effort. The death toll, initially ruled as eight people, has since climbed to 14, per Indian news outlet The Tribune.

The collapse took place around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, witnesses shared.

India's National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force were tapped to help rescue those inside the debris. Officials said the rescue effort, which also involved sniffer dogs, searchlights and excavating machines, continued through the night and involved 25 doctors and 21 ambulances, per The Tribune.

A worker carries a sack of onions from a stack of onions and potatoes at the Azadpur wholesale market in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, June 5, 2022. India's Ministry of Agriculture data show tomato price inflation surged to 61% month on month in May. Even so, other vegetable prices have come down sharply from elevated levels in April. Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A worker in New Delhi, India. Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg via Getty

Deputy Inspector General of Police Shalabh Mathur said that nearly all missing workers had been located, The Tribune.

Additional footage from the aftermath shows crews drag out bags of potatoes and unload large loads of rubble and concrete into dumpsters.

Before the weekend, six people had been discharged from the hospital as four were undergoing treatment, District Magistrate Manish Bansal said, per The Tribune. And following the collapse, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath formed a committee to look into the cause of the deadly collapse, the outlet shares.

Adityanath has reportedly also announced a payment of ₹200,000 (around $2,400 USD) for relatives of those who died and ₹50,000 (around $600 USD) for those injured, along with free treatment.

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A police complaint has since been filed against the cold storage facility's owner and two others associated with the property, per The Independent, as the roof was alleged to have been reconstructed months ago, but not up to safety protocols.

"We have detained four people for questioning. The main accused are missing and are being searched. We will be able to tell the real reason for the collapse of this building only after the debris is removed," superintendent of police Chakresh Mishra said, per Indian news channel NDTV.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about the collapse on Friday, writing, "The accident in the cold storage in Chandausi, Uttar Pradesh is tragic. My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this. Under the supervision of the state government, the local administration is making all possible efforts for relief and rescue. I wish speedy recovery to all the injured."

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