Surat: Amid chaos on the top floor, particularly the room in which children were confined in a burning building in Gujarat's Surat, a class 10 girl student showed presence of mind and calmly followed her teacher to safety, while helping another student.
Urmi Harsukhbhai Vekari, one of the survivors, said, "I had joined this drawing class just three days ago. There were 20-30 boys and girls learning drawing from Bhargav Sir. Suddenly, there was a lot of smoke in the room... initially we thought that somebody had burnt papers. Thereafter we came to know that fire had erupted and everybody panicked and they started jumping off.”
Urmi said she and another girl kept their calm and didn't panic. “But we saw our sir (teacher) safely lowering down to the railing underneath the window. Putting all my trust in him, I, too, lowered myself and he helped me get on the little space underneath and also helped the other girl. We reached the ground safely on the fire brigade's ladder which came up to us. Bhargav Sir was the last to come down the ladder," she said.
According to Urmi, the classes are run at the fine arts institute, where aspiring architects and fine arts students undergo coaching for competitive exams like NATA.
The child, who was seen falling off from the building in a horrifying video, is the child of an assistant teacher that Urmi identified as Grishma Madam. "She doesn't know what happened. Normally, she didn't bring her child to the class, but today she did," Urmi said.
While Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said at least 19 students died in the fire, his deputy Nitin Patel put the figure at 20. "As per the information received, 20 students have died in the fire. Many others were injured and shifted to a hospital," Patel said.
Expressing anguish, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has directed the state government and local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected.
Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat. My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. Have asked the Gujarat Government and local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 24, 2019
Rupani said the injured are being treated in various hospitals near the incident site. Expressing anguish, he announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh for the kin of the deceased. The injured children will be given quick and proper treatment, he added.
Meanwhile, Surat police filed an FIR against three people, including builders of the complex -- Harshal Vekaria and Jignesh, and the owner of the coaching centre Bhargav Bhutani.
(With Inputs from IANS)