Stephen Court toll rises to 26 | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Stephen Court toll rises to 26

kolkata Updated: Mar 26, 2010 20:19 IST

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Two more charred bodies were recovered from the rubbles of the ill-fated Stephen Court building on Friday taking the toll in Tuesday's inferno to 26, police said.

The bodies - shrunk and unrecognisable - were discovered while clearing the rubble from the fifth floor of the landmark structure on the city's happening Park Street, famous for its fine dining restaurants and night life.

"Both bodies have been sent to the SSKM hospital for the victims' families to identify," a police officer said. One of the bodies was believed to be that of a woman.

Meanwhile, following an appeal by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, the Calcutta High Court Friday gave permission for dismantling the dangerous portions of the century-old structure while clearing the rubble.

The court had Thursday ordered the authorities not to demolish any part of the structure without taking leave of the judiciary.

A day after staging an angry demonstration against the authorities who had refused to let them inside the building on safety grounds, the residents of Stephen Court were allowed to visit their flats for half an hour accompanied by rescue workers to take out essential belongings.

An elderly resident could not get into his fifth floor flat, even with the help of rescue officials, because of the debris piled up outside his door.

However, a sixth floor resident managed to get in. "I went into my flat and got my essential belongings. Nothing has happened to my flat," she said.

Many residents said they wanted more time to access their homes.

"It will be very nice if we are allowed to access our flats for some more time for at least two-three days so that we can take out more belongings," said an elderly resident.

Kolkata Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti said: "Our first priority is to clear the debris and bring out the bodies if there are any, because there are people still missing. We have allowed the residents to take out their belongings but we will not allow anyone to stay in their flats."

After remaining shut for three days, the iconic Flurys tea room housed in Stephen Court opened its doors, albeit from a different nearby address.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon and swept through two floors of the residence-cum-office block, trapping scores.

Six people died Tuesday after jumping from the upper floors in a desperate bid to save themselves. Eighteen charred bodies were found by Wednesday morning from the sixth floor. About a dozen people are still untraced.

The building built by an Armenian Stephen Arathoon in 1910 also has the famous eatery Peter Cat, besides Café Coffee Day and One Step Up restaurant as tenants.