Nine people including four firefighters, one Railway Protection Force personnel, an assistant sub-inspector of the Kolkata Police and one unidentified person died while fighting a massive blaze the fire at a high rise building that houses the offices of the Eastern Railway at Kolkata's Strand Road, fire service minister Sujit Bose said late Monday night.
Two more bodies were found inside a second elevator, fire brigade officials said late on Monday night. The bodies could not be identified. It was suspected that one of them could be the Eastern Railway's deputy chief commercial manager Partha Sarathi Mondal who had been missing since evening.
"The police commissioner told me that two more people are missing and may have died," said chief minister Mamata Banerjee after reaching the spot around 10.15 pm.
Railway officials who work in the building said one of their colleagues, Sudipta Das, a technician and resident of Howrah, was missing.
A senior railway official, Partha Sarathi Mondal, was missing, said members of his family who talked to the chief minister.
The fire services personnel who died are Girish Deb, Gaurab Bej, Aniruddh Jana and Biman Purkait.
The Kolkata Police ASI was identified as Amit Bhawal
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was deployed in the search operation a little before midnight.
Several fire brigade personnel were taken to hospitals such as SSKM Hospital and B R Singh Hospital. Two of them were identified as Manoranjan Mudi and Arindam Dey. Both had inhaled smoke, officials said.
The name of the RPF constable could not be ascertained, said a fire services official.
"I am deeply shocked. The chief minister had been constantly inquiring about the firefighters. We are with the families of the bereaved," said Bose.
The building plan could have helped a lot, the fire services minister told HT.
The fire had broken out at the 13th floor of the Eastern Railway's office in the evening.
The 13th floor houses the accounts office, said ER employees who evacuated the building. The person who was hurt did not sustain any major injury, they said.
The fire was detected around 6.10 pm. The high rise called Koilaghata Building, is located beside the Hooghly river.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that Railway officials hadn't arrived yet. "You can see that no railway official has come here so far. It is their property and they have a responsibility," she said.
Sujit Bose said one RPF personnel could be identified and one person could not be identified.
The bodies were found scattered on the floor that caught fire.
The Kolkata Police ASI was attached to the local police station.
"We should always be careful. During a fire we should not use elevators. I am sure those who went up were experts in their field. Probably they wanted to work fast. This is unfortunate," said the chief minister.
"Money cannot compensate for the loss of life but the state government will stand by these families. Each family will be given a job and ₹10 lakh," she said.
"The fire is now under control," she added.
"Railways have their fire-fighting team too. What happened to that? It's our men who did all the work. Not all those who died live in Kolkata. One of them live in Baranagar in north Kolkata, I was told. The families have been informed. They are coming," said the chief minister.
ER chief spokesperson Kamal Deo Das said, "Online booking of tickets will start once the fire is completely doused and electricity cables are connected."
Banerjee left the spot at 12.10 am. She also went to SSKM hospital to inquire about the injured.
"It is difficult to identify the bodies because all are badly charred. Two or three of the deceased can be identified by their colleagues. The post mortem examination, which is mandatory, can be done tonight but how can we hand the bodies to the families without identification?" Banerjee said at SSKM hospital where the seven bodies were taken.