Fire breaks out again hours after 5 die in blaze at Serum Institute plant in Pune

Rahul M
·3-min read

A second fire broke out in one of the compartments of the building at Serum Institute of India, in Pune, hours after a part of the building caught fire on Thursday, January 21, killing at least five people.

A fire fighting operation is underway, according to ANI.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken to Twitter to express his anguish at the loss of lives and say that he prays for the injured to “recover at the earliest”.

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Earlier, nine people were evacuated from a building in the Serum Institute of India's Manjari premises in Pune after a fire broke out at the facility, police said.

The Serum Institute of India is manufacturing the coronavirus vaccine, 'Covishield', that was developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca. The vaccine was given emergency use approval by India's top drug regulator earlier in January, and was rolled out on 16 January.

However, sources said that 'Covishield' production would not be affected due to the incident, with the vaccine manufacturing plant safe.

The deceased have not been identified yet. According to news agency ANI, the fire affected the fourth and fifth floors of the SEZ3 building.

As many as 10 fire tenders were rushed to the spot when the fire broke out.

As per reports, the fire took place at an under-construction unit at Manjri.

Taking to Twitter, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said "there would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies".

Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI the fire broke out at 2.45 pm on the fourth and fifth floor of the SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises. "As per the primary information, three people have been evacuated," she said. The company's CEO Adar Poonawalla said "the most important thing is that there have been no lives lost or major injuries due to the fire, despite a few floors being destroyed."

‘We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed,’ SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said.

Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said it appears the five persons who died in the fire were working on the building floor. Fire officials recovered the bodies during an inspection, he said.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the state government has ordered a probe into the blaze.

The fire, which broke out at 2.45 pm on the fourth and fifth floors of the SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises, was brought under control in two hours, police said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI that nine people were evacuated from the spot after the fire broke out.

Viral visuals from the site showed smoke billowing out from the Serum Institute facility.

Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said cooling work has commenced at the spot. Fifteen water tankers were pressed into action and the fire was brought under control around 4.30 pm, he said.

'The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

Furniture, wiring, cabins were gutted. No major machinery or instruments were stored on the floors where the fire broke out,' he said.

'I have taken information from the Pune Municipal Corporation about the incident and instructed locals officials to carry out a detailed probe into the fire,' Ajit Pawar said.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told reporters that as per initial information, an electrical fault caused the fire.

'As per initial information, the fire did not erupt at the unit where the COVID-19 vaccine is being produced, but in the unit where the BCG vaccine is produced,' Thackeray said.

Additional inputs: PTI, News18, ANI