PM Modi announces ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh for those killed in Kolkata fire
The Centre on Tuesday approved an ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh each from Prime Minister's National Relief Fund for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the tragic fire in Kolkata, Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.
A compensation of ₹50,000 will be given to those seriously injured, PMO said hours after a massive fire engulfed a high-rise building of the Eastern Railway at Kolkata's Strand Road.
"Saddened by the loss of lives due to the fire tragedy in Kolkata. In this hour of sadness, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest," PM Modi said in a tweet on Tuesday morning.
Nine people including four fire fighters, one Railway Protection Force personnel, an assistant sub-inspector of the Kolkata Police and one unidentified person died while fighting a massive blaze, fire service minister Sujit Bose said late Monday night.
The fire had broken out at the 13th floor of the Eastern Railway’s office in the evening.
Two more bodies were found inside a second elevator, fire brigade officials said late on Monday night. The bodies could not be identified. It was suspected that one of them could be the Eastern Railway's deputy chief commercial manager Partha Sarathi Mondal who had been missing since evening.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had also announced compensation and offered assistance from the state government.
"Money cannot compensate for loss of life but the state government will stand by these familes. Each family will be given a job and ₹10 lakh," she said.
Stating that she didn't want to politicise the issue, Mamata said that Railway officials hadn't arrived yet. "You can see that no railway official has come here so far. It is their property and they have a responsibility," she said.
"We should always be careful. During a fire we should not use elevators. I am sure those who went up were experts in their field. Probably they wanted to work fast. This is unfortunate," said the chief minister.
"Railways have their fire-fighting team too. What happened to that? It's our men who did all the work. Not all those who died live in Kolkata. One of them live in Baranagar in north Kolkata, I was told. The families have been informed. They are coming," said the chief minister.
Banerjee left the spot at 12.10 am. She also went to SSKM hospital to inquire about the injured.
"It is difficult to identify the bodies because all are badly charred. Two or three of the deceased can be identified by their colleagues. The post mortem examination, which is mandatory, can be done tonight but how can we hand the bodies to the families without identification?" Banerjee said at SSKM hospital where the seven bodies were taken.