- According to Indian authorities, the factory also served as a dormitory for workers.
- The factory's owner, identified as Rehan, and the company manager, were arrested.
- “Their only fault was they were poor. Why else would someone work and sleep in such a congested place?”
At least 43 people were killed Sunday in a fire in a factory in central New Delhi, the capital city of India. The fire, which began at 5:30 AM (GMT), has already been controlled in an operation that, according to the local Fire Department, mobilized 25 vehicles. Police in the capital of India are investigating the cause of the fire. According to the latest balance, at least 16 people have been hospitalized so far, and 62 others have been rescued from inside the factory.
According to Indian authorities, the factory also served as a dormitory for workers. Most people were asleep when the fire started, and died due to choking and the inhalation of poisonous gases in the cramped factory, as reported by the Associated Press. City police announced the arrest of the factory owner. The businessman, identified as Rehan, and the company manager, were arrested. According to the Indian news agency, the suspects are being charged with causing the deaths of people through negligence, which could result in up to two years in prison.
Indian Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the factory and said that “the immediate cause” of the tragedy was a short circuit, although he said he was still waiting for investigations to find out what exactly triggered the fire. In several cities in India, factories and small industrial units are located in cramped, old quarters where real estate prices are low. At night, these buildings often serve as dormitories for the poor workers, most of them migrants, who save lodging money by sleeping in the workplace. In the country, building laws and safety standards are often disregarded by builders and residents, which is why such occurrences are common.
Babar Ali, a thirty-two years old man who managed to rescue his sister-in-law from the horrible accident, told the AP that the migrant workers lives were “a bigger tragedy than their death.” He explained that their lives are characterized by struggling to earn a living while working abnormal long shifts in unsafe conditions for an eventual meager pay. “Their only fault was they were poor. Why else would someone work and sleep in such a congested place?” Ali himself was also a worker in the same building some time back.
In 1997, a movie fire in New Delhi killed 59 people, and in February this year, 17 people lost their lives due to a fire in a six-story hotel in the Indian capital. The fire started in an unauthorized kitchen on the top floor of the building. In a Twitter message, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described the fire as “extremely horrific.” The Prime Minister tweeted, “my thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones.” Modi also wished the wounded a speedy recovery, and added “the authorities are giving all possible assistance at the scene of the tragedy.”