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Ludhiana factory collapse: Owner arrested, three firemen still trapped

Families of firemen say they are tired of politicians’ visits to the spot as they are only deriving political mileage out of the tragedy.

punjab Updated: Nov 23, 2017 08:35 IST
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Ludhiana factory blast,Punjab,tragedy
The factory owner had built three floors illegally that weakened the structure and claimed 13 innocent lives, police said.(HT Photo)

Three firemen are still believed to be trapped in the rubble of a plastic factory that collapsed in Ludhiana on Monday, killing 13 people, including six fire fighters.

The Punjab Police on Wednesday arrested Inderjit Singh Gola, the owner of Gola Plastic Factory, after police added culpable homicide not amounting to murder charge against him.

The factory owner had built three floors illegally that weakened the structure and claimed 13 innocent lives, Ludhiana police commissioner RN Dhoke said.

The wait is harrowing for the families of firemen Sukhdev, Manohar Lal and Manpreet Singh.

They watched anxiously as personnel of the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force and fire brigade continued search and rescue operations for the third day.

“Why didn’t these politicians earlier cared about us and let the illegal factory come up,” an angry member of Singh’s family said. “It is clear that the owner of the factory had political links that is why no action was taken against him.”

The families are tired of visit by politicians. They complained that politicians were merely cashing in on the tragedy.

As rescuers scour the site and removed the rubble, flames leaped out of what used to be the ground floor, where chemicals were stored. It could take four more days to clear the site, sources said.

“We have heard of miracles. My father is a fighter and cannot go this way,” Lal’s 21-year-old daughter Tamanna said. She, her mother and brother have been keeping a vigil since Monday. They spend the nights at the civil hospital and return to the site every morning.

The last Tamanna spoke to her father was on Monday. It was around 10am. The conversation was brief as Lal was at the fire site. “He disconnected the phone saying he was very busy and that fire was massive,” Tamanna said.

Sukhdev’s parents have been camping there too but have not told his wife, who is in Amritsar, that her husband is missing. They have three young daughters, the youngest is just a month old.

Sukhdev was a driver until two years ago but the pull of a secure government job made him join the fire brigade. “He got into this job as there was family pressure on him that government job offers security but destiny had other plans,” his cousin Inderpal said.

On Tuesday, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the families of the dead.

“It is an unfortunate incident. I hope firemen, stuck in debris, come out alive. We have formed a commission to probe the incident,” the chief minister told the media.

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 22:23 IST