43 Killed As Massive Blaze Sweeps Through Four-Storey Building In North Delhi
In one of the worst fire accidents in the city, 43 people were killed after a massive blaze ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi's Anaj Mandi area on Sunday morning, police and fire officials said.
Most of the people working in the units were fast asleep when the fire broke out in the second floor of the building in the early hours and 30 fire tenders were pressed into service, fire officials said.
A preliminary probe suggested that short circuit triggered the blaze, they said.
Nearly 150 fire personnel carried out the rescue operation and pulled out 63 people from the building.
While 43 labourers died, many others were injured including two fire personnel, fire officials said.
Delhi Police arrested building owner Rehan and his manager Furkan in connection with the fire incident. He was booked by police under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter).
Fire officials said none of the units had a No-Objection Certificate from the fire department and the congested area made rescue operations difficult. Firemen had to cut window grills to access the building.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the fire.
The prime minister also approved Rs 50,000 each for those seriously injured in the fire, his office said.
The amount will be paid from the Prime Minister National Relief Fund, the PMO said in a tweet.
The Delhi government ordered a probe into the incident and sought a detailed report within seven days. An ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each has been announced for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 1 lakh for those injured.
North Delhi Mayor Avtar Singh said he has asked the municipal commissioner to form a team which will visit the site and probe the cause of fire.
Chaotic scenes were witnessed at the site of the fire accident which was clogged with bystanders and politicians arriving in convoys.
Firemen made their way through narrow lanes to rescue those trapped inside the blackened building and carried many unconscious labourers on their backs.
Fire officials said the narrow lanes made it difficult for them to carry out rescue operations.
As the building lacked proper ventilation, most of the people died due to asphyxia.
At the three hospitals where the dead and injured were taken - RML, LNJP and Hindu Roa - distraught relatives had a hard time finding their family members.
Manoj (23), a resident of Begusarai in Bihar, said his brother Naveen (18) was working in a handbag manufacturing unit operating from the premises.
"I got a call from his friend informing that he has been injured in the incident. I have no clue which hospital he has been taken to," he said.
According to an unidentified elderly man whose three nephews were working in the factory, "At least 12-15 machines were installed in the unit. I have no idea about the factory owner.
"My nephews Mohammed Imran and Ikramuddin were inside the factory. I don't know their whereabouts," the man said.
According to him, many units were operating from the premises which was located in a congested area.
Many people trapped inside were rescued and rushed to RML Hospital, LNJP and Hindu Rao Hospital, fire officials said.
Thirty-four people were brought dead to LNJP hospital and smoke inhalation was the primary cause of the death. Some of the bodies were charred, Dr Kishore Singh, Medical Superintendent, LNJP, said.
Out of the 15 injured brought to LNJP, nine people are under observation and others have partial injuries, he said.
Power discom BYPL said the fire broke out due to some "internal system" in the building.
A spokesperson of power discom BSES Yamuna Power Ltd. said their team immediately disconnected the power supply.
"It appears that the fire started in the internal system of the building," he said.
The electricity meters of the building were placed on the ground floor and found to be intact, he added.
As the news of the fire broke out, a host of leaders expressed shock over the loss of lives in the fire tragedy.
PM Modi described the incident as "extremely horrific".
"The fire in Delhi's Anaj Mandi on Rani Jhansi Road is extremely horrific. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. Wishing the injured a quick recovery," the prime minister said in a tweet.
"Authorities are providing all possible assistance at the site of the tragedy," he said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues Imran Hussain and Satyendra Jain visited the incident spot to take stock of the situation.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described the fire incident as tragic and said firemen were doing their best.
"V v tragic news. Rescue operations going on. Firemen doing their best. Injured are being taken to hospitals," the chief minister said in a tweet earlier.
Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi condoled the loss of lives in the fire accident. Saddened at the news that a massive fire in the Anaj Mandi area of Delhi has claimed many lives and left several people injured, Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. "I extend my deepest condolences to the families of those killed and wish for the speedy recovery of those injured," he said.
Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Anurag Thakur, BJP MPs Manoj Tiwari and Vijay Goel were among those who visited the spot on Rani Jhansi Road.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also condoled the loss of lives in the incident.
"The fire in Delhi's Anaj Mandi is absolutely appalling and horrific. My prayers are with family members who have lost their loved ones and I wish a speedy recovery to all injured," Singh said.
"I express my gratitude to the brave team which is carrying out the rescue operation," he tweeted.