Hopes faded today for about 100 people still believed to be missing under a huge mound of rubble after a six-story hotel collapsed here. Four people were confirmed dead more than 15 hours after rescue operations began.
Nine injured people were pulled from the wreckage of the 67-room New World Hotel after it collapsed shortly before noon Saturday, said Lim Siam Kim, director of Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs.
No Americans were known to be at the hotel.
The New World Hotel, located in a low-income district in this island nation off the tip of Malaysia, was frequented by Indian and Malaysian tourists.
"We did not hear any sound when we used sensitive instruments to get sounds of those who have been trapped," Lim said.
The state-owned Singapore Broadcasting Corp., quoting officials, reported that four bodies had been removed.
Witnesses said the hotel sank, then toppled to one side--smothering an adjacent street and showering nearby shops with glass, bricks and twisted metal.
A police officer on the scene, asked about the prospect of finding survivors, pointed to towering piles of concrete slabs and said, "See for yourself what we are up against."
No explanation was given for the collapse, but Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam Jayakumar told reporters that officials would investigate the possibility of structural defects or a gas explosion.
Rescuers worked under the glare of powerful floodlights, lifting out chunks of concrete by hand as electric saws cut through pieces. Cranes were brought in to remove layers of concrete. When one large slab was lifted, other sections of the building caved in.