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The death toll from the collapse of a three-storey building in the Himachal Pradesh’s Solan rose to seven after four more bodies were pulled out from debris .

The building housing a small eatery and a small guest house collapsed following heavy rains on Sunday afternoon when 30 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) of Assam Rifles, all from the nearby Dagshai cantonment, were eating lunch there.

Nearly 15 civilians, including the eatery’s staff, were also present inside the building on Nahan-Kumarhati Road near Solan, some 55km away from Chandigarh.

The dead now includes six soldiers of the Indian Army and the wife of the building’s owner, according to officials. The dead JCOs have been identified as Raj Kishore, Balwinder Singh, Vinod, Ajit Kumar, Pardeep Chand and Yogesh and the woman as Archana Devi.

Nearly 12 more people, including seven soldiers, were still feared trapped in the building. Twenty-seven people, including 17 soldiers and 10 civilians, have been rescued from the debris.

AS Per Hindustan times National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) official Ajay Verma, who is involved in the rescue operations, said the bodies retrieved from the debris were badly crushed. “We are praying for some life in the debris,” Verma said.

As a team of the army and NDRF staff continued to search for survivors beneath the debris, inconsolable cries of the family members of those stuck inside could be heard as a body was pulled out at about 3am on Monday.

This building was constructed in 2009 and a floor was added to it recently. An FIR (first information report) against the owner has already been lodged.

Chief minister Jairam Thakur has already ordered a probe into the incident and is likely to visit the site later in the day.

First, the fourth floor collapsed. After some time, the entire structure came down,” said an eyewitness.

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