New Delhi factory fire killed at least 43

Source:AFP Published: 2019/12/8 19:33:39

At least 43 people have died in a factory fire in India's capital New Delhi, with the toll expected to rise, police told AFP.

Members of India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) head towards the site of a fire that swept through a factory where laborers were sleeping, in New Delhi, India on Sunday. Photo: VCG

The blaze broke out in the early hours in the city's old quarter, whose narrow and congested lanes are lined with many small manufacturing and storage units. "We... have since rescued at least 50 people," Sunil Choudhary, New Delhi's deputy chief fire officer, told AFP. 

They were "laborers and factory workers sleeping inside this four-or-five storey building," he said, adding that the fire had been extinguished but rescue operations were ongoing. 

A senior Delhi police officer said eight or nine people were carried out later, bringing the overall number rescued to at least 58. Fire officials said it was very difficult to access the dark, poorly-lit premises in the commercial hub of Sadar Bazar. 

New Delhi news channels aired footage of firemen carrying people out of the narrow lanes to nearby emergency vehicles. 

The building was filled with school bags and packing material, fire officials said. Monika Bhardwaj, deputy police commissioner of Delhi's north district told AFP that the death toll from the incident had jumped to "43, with 16 others still admitted at the local hospitals." 

"Fire department has completed the rescue work. There are no more bodies at the site. We don't yet know the cause of fire," Bhardwaj added. "Most who've died were sleeping when the fire broke out and died due to asphyxiation," Sadar Bazar's assistant commissioner of police said.

Many factories and small manufacturing units in big Indian cities are often located in old, cramped quarters of the cities to cut the cost of land. Such units often also serve as sleeping quarters for poor, mostly migrant laborers and workers, who manage to save money by sleeping overnight at their workplaces. 

Lack of planning and lax enforcement of building and safety regulations often leads to such deadly accidents.

"The fire in Delhi's Anaj Mandi on Rani Jhansi Road is extremely horrific. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones," Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter. 


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