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17 killed as fire breaks out at firecracker unit in Delhi’s Bawana, Kejriwal govt orders probe

The fire broke out at a firecracker factory in outer Delhi’s Bawana industrial area.

delhi Updated: Jan 21, 2018 02:10 IST
Karn Pratap Singh and Joydeep Thakur
Karn Pratap Singh and Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bawana,Fire,Fire in Bawana factory
The three-storey factory in north Delhi's Bawana Industrial Area that caught fire on Saturday, January 20, 2018. As many as 17 people died in the fire.(Sanchit Khanna/ HT Photo)

At least 10 women and seven men were charred to death in a fire that broke out in a firecracker unit in outer Delhi’s Bawana industrial area on Saturday evening, firefighters said.

Two people were injured in the blaze, one of the Capital’s deadliest industrial tragedies since 57 people were killed in a fire in the Lal Kuan chemical market complex in May 1999.

Delhi fire department officials said about 30 people working in the unit were trapped when the fire broke out around 6.20pm in the building that had a lone exit door in the front. The building’s three floors and the basement were used to pack and store firecrackers.

“One body was found in the basement and three on the ground floor. Thirteen bodies were found on the first floor. Some of the victims were sitting or lying on the floor close to each other,” chief fire officer Atul Garg said.

The bodies are kept at the mortuary of Baba Saheb Ambedkar hospital while the two injured people, including 40-year-old Sunita Devi, are admitted to Maharshi Valmiki hospital. The duo suffered severe burns and multiple fractures after jumping off the second floor to escape the flames and smoke.

“The fire was of Category Four, which means it was not big. But explosions took place inside the building, causing casualties,” Garg said. The fire brigade deployed 15 fire trucks and 50 firefighters who tamed the blaze by 9.30pm.

Policemen comfort the relative of a man who died in the factory fire in Bawana. (PTI)

The Delhi government ordered an inquiry into the fire. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 1 lakh to the injured.

Delhi industries minister Satyendar Jain has ordered an enquiry into the case. “Learnt about a serious fire incident in a private factory at Bawana. Several casualties. Monitoring the situation. Have ordered an enquiry,” Jain tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish over the tragedy. “My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. May those who are injured recover quickly,” the prime minister’s office tweeted.

According to Rohini deputy commissioner of police Rajneesh Gupta, a case has been registered and a co-owner of the unit, Manoj Jain, was taken into custody. PTI reported an injured labourer told police that the firecrackers were brought from outside and packed at the factory.

Officials said the building, which didn’t have the mandatory no-objection certificate on fire safety, was sealed after the blaze. The owners could face multiple charges for the lack of safety equipment such as extinguishers in the building used for storing highly inflammable fireworks.

The injured Sunita Devi, a resident of Metro Vihar, about 1.5km from the Bawana industrial area, was hired as a helper two days ago. Her son Mistri Lal said: “The storehouse was opened 15 days ago. As soon as the building caught fire, she jumped from the building,” he said.

The industrial area spread over 2,100 acres recorded three fires on Saturday — the first around 4pm in Sector 3, the second in the firecracker unit in Sector 5, and the third in Sector 1 at 7.30pm.


First Published: Jan 20, 2018 20:52 IST