Another Fire at Serum Institute, PM Modi ‘Anguished’ as 5 Die

The Quint
·3-min read

Another 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, 21 January, 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”.

Cyrus S Poonawalla, Chairman and Managing Director, Serum Institute of India, in a statement, expressed his condolences at the demise of five people, and said:

"Today is an extremely sorrowful day for all of us at Serum Institute of India. Regrettably, there were losses of lives in the fire that broke out in our under installation facility situated at the Special Economic Zone at Manjri.”

Poonawalla, in his statement, also said that they will be offering a compensation of INR 25 lakh to each of the grieving families, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norms.

Statement From Cyrus S. Poonawalla, Chairman & Managing Director, Serum Institute of India. "Today is an extremely...

Posted by Serum Institute Of India on Thursday, January 21, 2021

The deceased have not yet been identified.

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.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has, according to ANI, informed that the building caught fire “due to some ongoing welding work.”

"“Insulation material, which is inflammable, was kept near the work site.” " - Rajesh Tope, Maharashtra Health Minister

The Maharashtra health minister has also confirmed that so far, five deaths have been reported.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will visit the unit of Serum Institute of India in Manjri, Pune, where the fire mishap took place, to inspect and take stock of the situation on Friday, reported ANI, citing the Office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra

As per reports, the fire took place at an under-construction unit at Manjri. Sources cited by reports earlier said that 'Covishield' production would not be affected due to the incident, with the vaccine manufacturing plant safe.

Earlier in the day, ANI had quoted Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol as saying:

“The five people who died, were perhaps the workers at the under-construction building. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but it is being speculated that welding, that was going on at the building, caused the fire.”

‘Deeply Saddened’

Taking to Twitter, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla expressed his condolences to the family members of the deceased.

In an earlier tweet, he 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".

‘Fire Under Control’

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray earlier called upon the Pune Municipal Commissioner for details regarding the incident.

"As per the information we have received, the fire is under control.... The fire had not broken out at the COVID vaccine unit," Thackeray was quoted as saying later.

Meanwhile, a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was also sent to the site.

The Serum Institue 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.

(With inputs from ANI.)

. Read more on India by The Quint.Road in South Delhi To Be Named After Sushant Singh RajputFarmers Reject Govt’s Offer to Suspend Farm Laws, Demand Repeal . Read more on India by The Quint.