SRI NAGAR, India, May 2, Reuter: A three story children’s hospital collapsed in the North Indian city of Jammu on Monday, killing at least 21 people, mostly young patients, hospital officials said.

Manhas, reached by telephone from Sri Nagar, said he believed no more than 30 people died in the collapse, well short of the feared 150 deaths reported by unofficial sources.

Officials in Jammu said at least 25 children left their wards screaming “run, run’ as the top two floors of the building began to cave in early in the morning.

They said army troops, helped by hundreds of civilians, used a crane and other heavy equipment, as others clawed at the debris with their hands to reach children and hospital staff trapped under the rubble.

Kashmir State Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah of Jammu and Kashmir cancelled his official engagements and flew to Jammu to Supervise rescue operations,

“The tragedy has shaken the entire state”, Abdullah told reporters in Jammu. He said he had appointed a commission to look into the collapse.

Jammu, at the upper end of the north Indian plains, serves as the winter capital of the former princely state disputed between India and Pakistan.

The summer capital, the hill town of Sri Nagar, is 200 km to the north.

Manhas said he did not know how many people might be buried in the debris of the 10yearold government hospital, but he said there were only 66 patients inside,

Manhas said 50 children had been rescued. All were critically injured, he said.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) reported from Jammu, however, there were 200 patients and an unknown number of staff in the hospital when the upper part of the building collapsed and crashed through the first floor.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 6, 1988