Major fire rips through New Delhi factory, dozens killed | News | DW | 08.12.2019
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Major fire rips through New Delhi factory, dozens killed

More than 40 people have died in a factory fire in India's capital, New Delhi, with the death toll expected to rise. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described the fire as "extremely horrific."

Dozens of people were killed when a major fire ripped through a six-story factory building in India's capital, New Delhi, on Sunday morning. The blaze broke out in the early hours in the city's old quarter, which is made up of narrow and congested lanes and lined with many small manufacturing and storage units.  

At least 43 people were killed, most of whom were laborers and factory workers sleeping on various floors inside a building, Sunil Choudhary, New Delhi's deputy chief fire officer, told AFP.

Police arrest owner and manager

Later on Sunday law enforcers arrested the owner and the manager of the establishment. The owner was charged with culpable homicide and negligence, deputy commissioner of New Delhi police Monica Bhardwaj said. The factory manager was also detained in relation to the fire, but it was uncertain as to whether he had been charged.

Officials said it was very difficult to access the poorly lit premises in the commercial hub of Sadar Bazar.

"Till now we have rescued more than 50 people, most of them were affected due to smoke," Atul Garg, an official with Delhi Fire Services told reporters.

Nearly 30 fire tenders were rushed to the spot, he added.

A fire engine in a narrow lane

Officials said it was very difficult to access the poorly lit premises in the commercial hub of Sadar Bazar

'Extremely horrific'

Injured survivors were being treated in nearby hospitals. Authorities cautioned that the death toll could rise, as many of the rescued were "in a critical condition."

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who described the fire as "extremely horrific,” tweeted: "My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. Wishing the injured a quick recovery."

Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, described the incident as "very, very tragic news."

"Rescue operations going on. Firemen doing their best. Injured are being taken to hospitals," Kejriwal wrote on Twitter.

Deadly blazes are not uncommon in India, where building laws and safety norms are often flouted by builders and residents.

The problems are compounded by poor fire protection devices, missing emergency exits and outdated electrical systems.

In February, at least 17 people were killed by a fire in a six-story hotel, also in the Indian capital, that started in an unauthorized rooftop kitchen.

In September, 21 people were killed and many more injured in a large explosion at a fireworks factory in northern India.

sri, jsi/stb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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