Dozens die in Delhi blaze

World | 9 Dec 2019

Indian authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that killed at least 43 people in a factory in New Delhi early yesterday as relatives of the workers who were trapped inside waited outside a mortuary to identify the dead.

Firefighters had to fight the blaze from 100 meters away because it broke out in one of the area's many alleyways, tangled in electrical wire and too narrow for vehicles.

A resident of the area, Mohammed Naushad, said he was woken by people wailing at around 4.30am. He went outside to find smoke and flames shooting out of a building near Sadar Bazaar, a large wholesale market for household goods. Inside, he found the fourth floor engulfed in flames. One floor below, he saw "20 to 25 people lying on the floor" and not moving.

Outside the mortuary, people said they had received phone calls from the men trapped inside, who begged them to call the fire brigade.

Many of the men were migrants from the impoverished state of Bihar, on meager pay for making handbags, caps and other garments. They slept at the factory between lengthy shifts.

A case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was registered against the building's owner.

Fire services chief Atul Garg said it took 25 trucks to put out the blaze.


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