Rooftop restau­rant fire kills at least 15

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

MUM­BAI — At least 15 peo­ple were killed when a huge blaze tore through a pop­u­lar restau­rant in Mum­bai early on Fri­day, po­lice said, in the latest dis­as­ter to raise con­cerns over fire safety in In­dia.

Many of the vic­tims were young women who were at­tend­ing a birth­day party on the rooftop when the fire broke out. Doc­tors said they died of as­phyx­i­a­tion, ap­par­ently as they tried to flee the burn­ing build­ing.

Tele­vi­sion footage of the latest dis­as­ter showed fire en­gines and emer­gency teams rush­ing to the scene as the build­ing in the city’s Ka­mala Mills com­pound was be­ing con­sumed by flames and dark plumes of smoke rose into the night sky.

The restau­rant was which also houses ho­tels and of­fices.

Lo­cal me­dia re­ported that a false ceil­ing had col­lapsed in the four-story build­ing in the In­dian fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal, trap­ping peo­ple in­side as they tried to es­cape.

The fire was ex­tin­guished in the early hours but a reporter at the scene said the rooftop where the party was tak­ing place had been gut­ted, with charred ice buck­ets and ash­trays strewed around.

More than 50 peo­ple were brought to a hospi­tal, of whom 12 were be­ing treated for in­juries that were not life threat­en­ing, said Av­inash Supe, a doc­tor at KEM Hospi­tal.

Po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of the fire, and had filed a pre­lim­i­nary case against the restau­rant’s own­ers.

Eleven of the vic­tims were fe­male par­ty­go­ers, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties.

One woman who said she was in the build­ing at the time told of the des­per­ate scenes as peo­ple tried to es­cape.

“There was a stam­pede and some­one pushed me,” Sulbha Arora said on Twitter.

“Peo­ple were run­ning over me even as the ceil­ing above me was col­laps­ing in flames. I still don’t know how I got out alive. Some pow­ers were def­i­nitely pro­tect­ing me.”

Babu Lal, who was cel­e­brat­ing his grand­daugh­ter’s birth­day at the restau­rant, com­plained of poor safety stan­dards at the crowded restau­rant.

“I didn’t see any fire ex­tin­guish­ers there,” Lal said. His grand­daugh­ter died in the fire, he said.

Fa­tal fires are com­mon across In­dia be­cause of poor safety stan­dards and lax en­force­ment of ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions.

A fire swept through a sweet shop in Mum­bai ear­lier this month, spark­ing a build­ing col­lapse which killed 12 sleep­ing work­ers.

In Septem­ber, a gas cylin­der ex­ploded in an un­fin­ished build­ing in Mum­bai killing six peo­ple.

Such disas­ters are par­tic­u­larly com­mon in Mum­bai, where mil­lions live in cramped, di­lap­i­dated prop­er­ties be­cause of high rental prices. Ac­tivists say builders and land­lords often cut cor­ners on safety to save costs.

In­dia’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi tweeted that he was “an­guished by the fire in Mum­bai”.

DAN­ISH SID­DIQUI / REUTERS YE­MEN RUS­SIA

A gen­eral view of the restau­rant de­stroyed in the blaze in Mum­bai, In­dia, on Fri­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.