NEW DELHI: At least 26 people have been killed and 12 others injured in a fire at a four-storey commercial building in the Indian capital, police say.
Atul Garg, director of the Delhi Fire Service, said the building had no fire department clearance and was not equipped with fire safety equipment like extinguishers.
Gorge said the fire started Friday evening on the first floor of the building and quickly spread to other areas where combustible plastic components used to make equipment, including security cameras, and large quantities of cardboard used for packaging were stored.
Twenty-seven bodies were recovered from the second floor where attendees at an inspirational meeting were engulfed in flames, Garg said.
Only five people have been identified so far because the badly burnt bodies were making it difficult to identify, he said, adding that rescue work was over.
At least 50 people were rescued from the building, most of them shops, the fire control room said. The building is located in Mundka area of West New Delhi.
Fires are common in India, where building laws and safety rules are often violated by builders and residents. In 2019, a fire caused by an electrical short circuit engulfed a building in New Delhi, killing 43 people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that he is sorry for the loss of life and wishes speedy recovery to the 12 injured who were admitted to the hospital.
Harish Goel and his brother Varun Goel were first detained for questioning and later arrested, Press Trust of India police officer Sameer Sharma was quoted as saying.
Sachin Gorg, a resident of the area, said the building had only one exit door and it was difficult for people trapped there to get out quickly due to the crash. “They called an ambulance and fire officials used crane buckets to rescue people,” he said.
Another resident, Satbir Lakra, said several men and women broke the glass walls and jumped to the ground floor.
The building is located in a densely populated area, including the industrial unit, and it took time for fire engines to arrive at the scene, Garg said.
Twenty-seven fire engines worked for more than five hours to contain the blaze. The fire control room said an overnight search was on to find anyone trapped in the rubble.
The cause of the fire is not immediately clear and is being investigated.
Gorg said there are conflicting reports. Some say the fire started after an air conditioner exploded and some say it started with an electrical short circuit.