43 killed as massive blaze sweeps through four-storey building in north Delhi

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NEW 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

They said 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

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.

Police said they have registered a case against the property owner.

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 Limited 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.

Earlier in a tweet, he 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.

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi condoled the loss of lives in the fire accident

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.

Source: Press Trust of India