A day after a massive fire broke out at a building near West Delhi's Mundka metro station, killing at least 27 people and injuring 12, the Delhi Police arrested two owners of a company in the building on Saturday, 14 May.
Twenty-nine people suspected to be inside the building that caught fire were still missing on Saturday afternoon, as per the authorities. Of these, 24 are women, and 5 are men. "Firefighting operation has been concluded. Search and rescue operation continues, it will take time given the vastness of the area," Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Choudhary said on Saturday.
The fire is suspected to have begun on the first floor of the four-storey building, which houses the office of a CCTV camera and router manufacturing company.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the site of the fire on Saturday and ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Owners of CCTV Company Arrested, Building Owner Absconding
"The company owners – Harish Goel and Vijay Goel – who were detained have been arrested in connection with the incident. All floors of the building were being used by the same company, the DCP said. The building's owner, Manish Lakra, has also been booked, "and is currently absconding," DCP (Outer) Sameer Sharma said.
Lakra, who did not have a safety clearance from the fire department for the building, is absconding, as per the police. The arrested company owners' father, Amarnath Goel, was among those who were killed in the fire.
An FIR has been registered against the accused under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide),120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Kejriwal Visits Mishap Site, Announces Compensation
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal visited the site of the tragedy on Saturday and announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of each of the deceased, and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
"The incident of fire in the building located in Mundka is very painful and shocking. Honorable Chief Minister himself reached the spot and took the report from the officials. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the accident. A compensation of Rs 10 lakh will be given to the family of the dead and Rs 50,000 to the injured," the CM's office said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs 2 lakh ex gratia to the kin of those lost in the blaze. He added, "The injured would be given Rs 50,000."
50 Rescued So Far, Some Had Jumped From Building to Escape: Police
Delhi Fire Services received information about the blaze at a building near pillar number 544 of the Mundka metro station at 4:40 pm on Friday, following which 24 fire tenders were sent to the spot.
The Delhi Police had said, "On preliminary enquiry, it has been learnt that it's a three-storey commercial building generally used for providing office space for companies. The fire initiated from the first floor of the building, which is an office of a CCTV cameras and router manufacturing company."
A motivational speech event was underway on the second floor of the building when the fire broke out, leading to the most number of deaths, as per the preliminary probe. The divisional officer of the fire department also indicated that there was only one staircase in the building, which had hindered evacuation.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Choudhary said that some people even jumped from the building, and were later shifted to the hospital. Officials also broke the windows of the building to rescue people trapped inside. The police added that 12 people were injured in the fire.
DCP Sameer Sharma said that 50 people had been rescued so far, adding that there were chances of more bodies being recovered as rescue operations were still underway.
"We received 27 dead bodies. All severely burnt and charred. Of these, 7 bodies have been identified. Relatives still coming for identification process. At least 7 other families are looking for their members among the bodies," Dr SK Arora, Medical Superintendent of Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, was quoted as saying by ANI.
PM Modi, President Kovind Express Condolences
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his condolences to the victims' families.
"Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to a tragic fire in Delhi. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I wish the injured a speedy recovery," PM Modi said.
President Ram Nath Kovind also took to Twitter, expressing sorrow for the incident.
"Distressed by the tragic fire accident at a building near Mundka Metro Station in Delhi. My condolences to the bereaved families. I wish for speedy recovery of the injured," President Kovind said in the tweet.
Delhi CM condoled the deaths of the victims, and said that he was constantly in touch with fire officials regarding the situation on the ground.
"Shocked and pained to know abt this tragic incident. I am constantly in touch wid officers. Our brave firemen are trying their best to control the fire and save lives. God bless all (sic)," he said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said in a tweet in Hindi, "The death of a large number of people is heart-wrenching due to a massive fire in a building in Mundka area of Delhi. My thoughts are with the bereaved family in this time of immense pain. May God give peace to the departed souls. I wish speedy recovery to the injured."
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also tweeted, saying, "The fire in Mundaka, Delhi is extremely horrific. My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Praying for the quick recovery of those who are injured."