In one of the worst incidents of fire in Delhi, 43 people were killed after a massive blaze ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi on Sunday morning. The early morning fire left many others injured.
According to fire officials, preliminary investigations suggest that a short circuit might have triggered early morning blaze. They further added that none of the units had a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department and the congested area made rescue operations difficult. Firemen had to cut window grills to access the building. According to Delhi Fire Service Director Atul Garg, the building did not have a fire clearance and no fire safety equipment was found installed on the premises.
Fire officials said the congested area made it difficult for them to carry out rescue operations. Many of those killed and injured were fast asleep when the fire broke out. As the building lacked proper ventilation, most of the people died due to asphyxiation.
Delhi Police on Sunday arrested building owner Rehan and his manager Furkan in connection with the fire incident. He was booked by the police under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter).
Power distribution company BYPL claimed that the fire appeared to have started in some "internal system" of the building. A team of BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BRPL) rushed to the spot after getting information on the fire and immediately discontinued the electricity supply, according to a company spokesman.
Most of the people working in the units were fast asleep when the fire broke out in the second floor of the building on early Sunday morning and 30 fire tenders were pressed into service, fire officials said. Nearly 150 fire personnel carried out the rescue operation and rescued at least 63 people from the burning building.
While 43 labourers died, two fire personnel also sustained injuries while carrying out rescue operations, fire officials said.
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.
At the three hospitals where the dead and injured were taken " Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML), Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) and Hindu Roa Ã¹ distraught relatives tried to locate 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 another 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 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.
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 along with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. The chief minister later went on to visit the injured in the hospital.
" ANI (@ANI) December 8, 2019
AAP govt orders investigation into incident, seeks report within seven days
The Delhi government on Sunday 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.
We have lost more than 40 innocent lives to the tragic fire. I've ordered a magisterial inquiry into its cause, no culprit will be spared
We can't bring back lost lives, but Delhi govt will provide ¹10 L assistance to families that lost their loved ones & ¹1 L for the injured. pic.twitter.com/SOT5kR9l5J
" Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 8, 2019
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 the fire. Police said they have registered a case against the property owner. The police said a case under section 304 of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 10 years) has been filed. The case has been transferred to the crime branch.
Centre announes ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for family of those who died
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had 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.
PM @narendramodi announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the tragic fire in Delhi.
PM has also approved Rs. 50,000 each for those seriously injured in the fire.
" PMO India (@PMOIndia) December 8, 2019
The Bharatiya Janata Party had also announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh to the victims' family who lost their lives in the incident. While speaking to media at the site of the incident, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said that the party has decided to help the families of those who died with Rs 5 lakh and those who suffered injuries by Rs 25,000.
PM says 'extremely horrific'; Kejriwal, Kovind offer condolences
As the news of the fire broke out, a host of leaders expressed shock over the loss of lives in the fire tragedy. 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. Authorities are providing all possible assistance at the site of the tragedy.
" Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 8, 2019
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues Imran Hussain and Satyendra Jain visited the incident spot to take stock of the situation. Earlier in a tweet, he described the fire incident as tragic and said firemen were doing their best.
Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul condoled the loss of lives in the fire accident. Sonia expressed "deep shock and dismay" at the horrendous fire accident in a factory in Anaj Mandi area that has claimed several innocent lives. "Expressing her deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of over four dozen deceased in the tragic accident, Gandhi hoped that maximum lives will be saved and those injured are treated expeditiously," a party statement said.
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" Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 8, 2019
Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi expresses her deepest condolences on the horrible fire accident in Delhi. pic.twitter.com/HH4SnCKY5b
" Congress (@INCIndia) December 8, 2019
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.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday expressed grief over the death of 43 people, who lost their lives in a major fire that broke out in Anaj Mandi at Rani Jhansi Road in Delhi. Taking to Twitter, Kovind conveyed condolences to the affected families and wished the injured an 'early recovery'.
Extremely sad to hear the tragic news about fire in Delhi's Anaz Mandi. My thoughts and prayers are with affected families. Wishing an early recovery to those injured. The local authorities are doing their best to rescue people and provide help.
" President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) December 8, 2019
With inputs from agencies