In one of the worst fires that Delhi has recently seen, at least 27 people lost their lives when a blaze engulfed a three-storey building in West Delhi's Mundka; several people were critically injured. The building - which had office spaces - is close to the Mundka metro station. More than 50 people were evacuated to safety in a massive rescue operation; at least 12 were injured. The death figure in the tragedy is likely to go up. Fire chief Atul Garg said the building did not have a fire clearance certificate or NOC. The owner is on the run.
Fire-fighting and rescue operations were kicked off soon after the blaze was reported on Friday evening. The blaze reportedly broke out at the first floor of the building that housed the office of a firm that manufactures CCTV cameras and Wi-Fi routers, officials said. Two owners of the firm - Harish Goel and Varun Goel - were arrested late night.
"The building did not have a fire NOC (no-objection certificate). The owner of the building has been identified as Manish Lakra who lived on the top floor.
Lakra is currently missing, teams are on the job and he will be arrested soon," DCP (deputy commissioner of police) Sameer Sharma (outer district) was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Mundka fire is one of the worst fire incidents that the national capital has seen since the 2019 Anaj Mandi tragedy that claimed 43 lives. In Mundka, fire officials said, some of the bodies were charred beyond recognition amid the horror and devastation that unfolded.
The blaze reportedly broke at around 4:40 pm near pillar number 544 of the Mundka metro station. Lakhs of people use the Delhi Metro everyday for commuting. Preliminary probe revealed there was onlyo one stair case in the building. This made is difficult for people to escape. At the time of fire, several who were on the second floor for a gathering got trapped.
Scenes of despair emerged from the site of tragedy as some people were seen jumping from the buildings in a bid to escape the flames. There was reportedly only one staircase, which made moving out of the building difficult.
A team of NDRF official was seen at the rescue site on Saturday morning. A probe is set to be launched into the tragedy, officials have said. "A car showroom used to operate from this property earlier. The building has also been rented by several outlets. To the best of the association's knowledge, the building had a license to operate a commercial enterprise," Sunil Chadha, the general secretary of the Mundka industrial area society, said on Friday.
Videos of the incidents showed smoke billowing out of the windows of the building, with firefighters helping those trapped in the upper floors to escape as hundreds watched.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted condolences. "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. (sic)," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
"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," the President tweeted.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote on Twitter: "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)".