Delhi's Mundka fire: Single entry-exit, DNA testing for remains | What we know

  • In videos that circulated on social media, people could be heard crying for help. Officers present at the site said that because of the smoke, many working in the building jumped from the windows in a desperate bid to escape the flames.
The Mundka fire is one of the worst fire incidents that Delhi has seen since the 2019 Anaj Mandi tragedy that claimed 43 lives.(Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times)
The Mundka fire is one of the worst fire incidents that Delhi has seen since the 2019 Anaj Mandi tragedy that claimed 43 lives.(Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times)
Published on May 14, 2022 05:49 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan, New Delhi

A day after one of Delhi's worst fire-related tragedies in recent years - in which 27 people died - the city's fire services chief, Atul Garg, said a fatal construction error may have contributed to the deaths. Garg said the building had only one entry/exit point - a staircase - and this made escaping the blaze difficult for most, and impossible for those who were killed. Heart-breaking visuals have emerged showing people desperately jumping off the first floor of the building to escape the fire. Worse still, the three-storied building did not have a fire clearance, or no objection certificate (NOC); Garg earlier on Saturday called the entire building “illegal”. "Most of the bodies were recovered from second floor. We searched the third floor today. The rescue operation is over," he said.

The focus must now turn to identifying and apprehending those responsible, including building owner Manish Lakra, who is on the run but will, police have said, be captured soon. The owners of the company that operated on the first floor have been arrested.

How did the fire start?

The fire broke out on the first floor of the building located near west Delhi's Mundka metro station on Friday. This falls on the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's (DMRC) Green Line. Garg said a call was received at 4.40pm. As many as 10 fire tenders were sent at first, with 14 more deployed later to bring the blaze under control.

How many people died?

The first body to be found was that of a woman - around 6pm on Friday. Within hours the death toll jumped and, at last count, 27 have been confirmed. There are still 12 people being treated for various injuries at Delhi's Sanjay Gandhi Hospital.

When was the fire put out?

It took six hours for the fire department to bring the blaze under control - at 1.40am Saturday to be precise. At the time, smoke was still seen coming out from the upper floors and firefighters present were spraying water inside as part of their cooling operation to ensure no further fire broke out.

Also Read | 'Need immediate steps to…': Delhi LG on Mundka fire tragedy

Apart from the firefighters, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was also called into action.

What has the police said so far?

Sameer Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (outer district) said Saturday that DNA tests would have to be carried out to identify the bodies of the deceased as quickly as possible.

At the time of writing this report, seven of the 27 bodies have been positively identified.

Garg has, however, warned the toll could go up to 30 as more charred remains have been recovered. He said it was difficult to know if the remains were of one person or more, news agency PTI reported.

What was the tragedy like?

In videos widely circulated on social media, people could be heard crying for help. Officers present at the site told Hindustan Times that because of the smoke, many working in the building jumped from the windows in a desperate bid to escape the flames.

As many as 29 people are currently missing - 24 women and five men, DCP Sharma said.

How did political leaders react?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind have condoled the loss of lives. Modi announced a compensation of 2 lakh to victims' next of kin and 50,000 to those injured.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy CM Manish Sisodia visited the site earlier today. Kejriwal has promised “stringent action” against those found guilty and has ordered a magisterial probe. He has announced compensation of 10 lakh to next of kin of the deceased and 50,000 to the injured.

(With inputs from agencies and Delhi bureau)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022