Another Fire at Serum Institute, PM Modi ‘Anguished’ as 5 Die
As per reports, the fire took place at an under-construction unit at Manjri.
Another fire broke out in one of the compartments of the building at Serum Institute of India, in Pune, hours after a part of the building caught fire on Thursday, 21 January, killing at least five people.
A fire fighting operation is underway, according to ANI. According to the police, the fire brigade officials said that the fire intensified due to the presence of inflammable material like PVC, plastic, plywood, and acrylic at the site, Indian Express reported.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken to Twitter to express his anguish at the loss of lives and says that he prays for the injured to “recover at the earliest”.
The five who died in the blaze have been identified as Saroj, a migrant worker from UP, Rama Shankar from UP, Sushil Kumar Pandey from Bihar, and Mahendra Ingle and Pratik Pashte, both residents of Pune district.
All five deceased were workers of Suvidha Engineers, who were undertaking air-conditioning work at the newly-constructed building. Collection of their key details is still underway, as their families have not yet reached the hospital.
Their bodies, which were initially taken to Noble Hospital, have been sent for post mortem to the Sassoon general hospital, Indian Express reported.
The First Instance of Fire at SII
Cyrus S Poonawalla, Chairman and Managing Director, Serum Institute of India, in a statement, expressed his condolences at the demise of five people, and said:
"Today is an extremely sorrowful day for all of us at Serum Institute of India. Regrettably, there were losses of lives in the fire that broke out in our under installation facility situated at the Special Economic Zone at Manjri.”
Poonawalla, in his statement, also said that they will be offering a compensation of INR 25 lakh to each of the grieving families, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norms.
Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar has informed ANI: “Contractor's men were working on that floor (where the first fire broke out) and when the fire brigade officials went there, they found five completely burnt bodies.”
According to the deputy CM, two of the deceased were from UP, two from Pune and one from Bihar.
According to news agency ANI, the first instance of fire affected the fourth and fifth floors of the SEZ3 building.
As many as 10 fire tenders were rushed to the spot when the fire broke out.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has, according to ANI, informed that the building caught fire “due to some ongoing welding work”.
“Insulation material, which is inflammable, was kept near the work site.”Rajesh Tope, Maharashtra Health Minister
The Maharashtra health minister has also confirmed that so far, five deaths have been reported.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will visit the unit of Serum Institute of India in Manjri, Pune, where the fire mishap took place, to inspect and take stock of the situation on Friday, reported ANI, citing the office of the chief minister of Maharashtra.
As per reports, the fire took place at an under-construction unit at Manjri. Sources cited by reports earlier said that 'Covishield' production would not be affected due to the incident, with the vaccine manufacturing plant safe.
Earlier in the day, ANI had quoted Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol as saying:
“The five people who died, were perhaps the workers at the under-construction building. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but it is being speculated that welding, that was going on at the building, caused the fire.”
Taking to Twitter, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla expressed his condolences to the family members of the deceased.
In an earlier tweet, he said, "There would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies".
On Friday, in a statement to ANI, Serum Institute officials also said that they have suffered financial looses due to the fire, and this will further impact the production of BCG and Rota vaccines in the future.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray earlier called upon the Pune Municipal Commissioner for details regarding the incident.
"As per the information we have received, the fire is under control.... The fire had not broken out at the COVID vaccine unit," Thackeray was quoted as saying later.
Meanwhile, a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was also sent to the site.
The Serum Institue of India is manufacturing the coronavirus vaccine, 'Covishield', that was developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca. The vaccine was given emergency use approval by India's top drug regulator earlier in January, and was rolled out on 16 January.
(With inputs from ANI and The Indian Express)
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