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Death toll in India building collapse rises to 49; rescuers say no more voices heard in rubble

In this Tuesday, July 1, 2014 photograph, India’s National Disaster Response Force personnel stand around a man, left, they rescued from beneath the debris of a building that collapsed Saturday on the outskirts of Chennai, India. Rescuers pulled seven more survivors from under the concrete ruins of a collapsed 11-story building on Tuesday, three days after it toppled and killed dozens of people in southern India, officials said. (AP Photo)

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In this Tuesday, July 1, 2014 photograph, India’s National Disaster Response Force personnel stand around a man, left, they rescued from beneath the debris of a building that collapsed Saturday on the outskirts of Chennai, India. Rescuers pulled seven more survivors from under the concrete ruins of a collapsed 11-story building on Tuesday, three days after it toppled and killed dozens of people in southern India, officials said. (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI - Rescuers in India pulled another 20 bodies from the ruins of a collapsed building, bringing to 49 the death toll since the weekend with slim chances of finding more survivors, police said Wednesday.

Twenty-seven people have been rescued so far, including seven on Tuesday, from under the enormous heap of broken slabs, twisted iron girders and concrete dust in a suburb of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

Police Inspector-General Sandeep Rai Rathore said that rescuers haven't heard any more voices from the debris since Tuesday. But he hasn't given up hope yet. In the past, survivors were still found nine days after a building toppled.

Eleven bodies were recovered on Tuesday night and another nine on Wednesday as rescue efforts continued for a fifth day, police said.

Nearly 90 contract workers were in the basement collecting wages when the 11-story building under construction collapsed Saturday night.

Hundreds of rescuers, wearing hard hats and breathing masks, were likely to continue searching at least two more days, Rathore said.

Police have arrested six construction company officials for alleged criminal negligence and violation of building codes. Authorities are investigating the cause of the collapse.

Building collapses are common in India, where high housing demand and lax regulations have encouraged builders to cut corners, use substandard materials or add unauthorized floors.

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