Kolkata, February 27, 2013
At least 19 people were killed in a major fire that broke out in an old six-storeyed market complex in the congested Sealdah area of Kolkata in the early hours of Wednesday.
Fire engulfs a six-storey market complex in Kolkata, 11 feared dead
At least 19 people were killed in a major fire that broke out in an old six-storeyed market complex in the congested Sealdah area of Kolkata in the early hours of today.
About ten others suffered injuries and were admitted to the state-run Medical College Hospital and the NRS Hospital. The condition of some of them was stated to be critical.
Kolkata Fire Brigade sources said their teams had removed at least 19 bodies from the building, that was completely gutted in the blaze.
According to various sources, the fire broke out around 3.50 am and caught many workers, who were sleeping in the building, unawares. About 30-40 workers, who hail from different parts of West Bengal and who travel home only at weekends, normally spend the night in the building.
About 25 fire tenders rushed to the scene and managed to bring the flames under control after nearl three hours, though there were small pockets of fire in different parts of the building. Smoke could be seen emanating from different parts of the building.
Ambulances were seen rushing the injured to hospitals and rescue teams were trying to ascertain if there were any more people still trapped in the building.
The building, located on the Surya Sen Street, houses many shops and godowns, including several dealing in paper and plastic items.
West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Minister Javed Ahmed Khan told mediapersons at the scene of the fire that the building was an unauthorised one and that thousands of such buildings had come up during the more than three decades of rule by the Left Front in the state.
He said there were more than eight lakh buildings in the city alone and it was difficult for official agencies to monitor all of them. He said the present Trinamool Congress government was trying to address the problem.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Chief Minister West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, who said the tough measures announced by the state government after the devastating AMRI Hopsital fire of December 9, 2011 in which 93 people, mainly patients, had died, but they had not been implemented on the ground.
Ms Banerjee also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the incident. She also ordered a police inquiry into the tragedy and asked for its report within three days.
Official sources said the cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained, but there was speculation that it could have been set off by an electrical short circuit. Tangles of electric wires could be seen hanging outside the building as well as in the dark and narrow corridors inside.
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