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15 feared trapped as hospital collapses in India

NEW DELHI (AP) -- A portion of a hospital building collapsed in central India on Friday and up to 15 people were feared trapped in the debris, an official said.

Mayor Krishna Gaur said 15 other people had been rescued from the collapsed portion of the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state.

Police officer Upendra Jain said 25 to 30 people were believed to be on the first floor of the women's medical ward when its ceiling crashed down. The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

Jain said there were no major injuries among the people rescued at the hospital, operated by state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. Bhopal is about 750 kilometers (465 miles) south of New Delhi.

Building collapses are common in India as builders try to cut corners by using substandard materials, and as multistory structures are built with inadequate supervision. The massive demand for housing around cities and pervasive corruption often result in builders adding unauthorized floors or constructing illegal buildings.

Early this month, at least 72 people were killed when an eight-story residential building being constructed illegally near Mumbai, India's financial capital, came crashing down in the worst building collapse in the country in decades.

Another 70 people were injured when the building in the Mumbai suburb of Thane caved in on April 4.