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PNB fire: Blocked exit, narrow staircase hindered rescue effort

delhi Updated: May 25, 2012 01:39 IST
Faizan Haider
Faizan Haider
Hindustan Times
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A day after a major fire broke out in the multi-storey building of Punjab National Bank (PNB) at Parliament Street and over 150 people were rescued, Delhi Police are all set to grill the top authorities of the bank.

In its investigation, they have found that the emergency exit of the building was blocked and its staircase narrow that hindered the rescue operation.

“Also, the exhaust fans of the building did not work due to which smoke engulfed the whole structure. Moreover, the originally broad staircase of

the building was narrowed down to make space for the office.

Due to the narrow staircase, a lot of people kept falling in

the stairs during the rescue operation,” said a senior police officer.

Delhi Police have registered a case under section 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal

Code. “We will call the management for questioning. Whoever found guilty will be arrested,” the officer added.

“There is only one exit point for bank employees. We came out through a monkey ladder placed on the fourth floor,” said Jayant Rishi, a survivor.

According to a fire department official, the bank is housed in an old building that had all necessary permissions. “Whenever there is an emergency, problems during rescue operation always rise. Currently the management is clearing the damaged property. Once that is done, an inspection will be carried out and they will be allowed to operate from the building again,” a fire department official said.

Police said the fire broke out in the generator plant-cum-air conditioner control room of

the five-storey building, which also houses its IT department and data centre. Within seconds, thick dark smoke enveloped the building through the AC ducts and shafts. A PNB official had said that the cash and other important items are safe.