Hyderabad: Eleven migrant workers hailing from Bihar were killed in an early morning blaze on Wednesday that swept through a scrap godown in the city, with only DNA tests likely to ascertain the victims’ identities since the bodies were charred beyond recognition, police said.
The godown was allegedly operating without fire safety measures and a lone internal spiral staircase hardly helped the deceased flee the fire, although one person managed to escape by jumping out of the room, they said.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed grief over the incident. The PM and Rao also announced ex-gratia to the victims.
The deceased workers, hailing from Chapra district of Bihar, were sleeping in a room constructed above the godown at Bhoiguda here when the incident happened, fire and police officials said.
The fire officials received a call at 3.55 AM and eight fire tenders were rushed to the spot. The blaze was extinguished by around 7 am, they said.
Based on preliminary investigation, a fire official told PTI the blaze started from the scrap godown and spread to the room above. The workers appeared to have tried to escape but soon fell unconscious after inhaling thick smoke.
It was a heart-wrenching scene as bodies, charred beyond recognition, were found in a heap as they apparently collapsed upon inhaling the smoke, he said.
The bodies were shifted to the nearby state-run Gandhi hospital to conduct post-mortem and other official procedures.
DNA tests would be conducted to identify the deceased, a police official told PTI. The cause of the fire would be known after investigation, he added.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner C V Anand, who inspected the scene, said the deceased were in the age group of 23-35 years.
The scrap material comprised old newspapers, used bottles and others, he said, adding fire safety conditions appear to have been violated at the ill-fated godown.
The workers were provided with accommodation in the room constructed above the scrap godown and many residents in the locality were not aware that they lived there, he said.
Regretting the loss of life in the tragedy, he said timber depots and others were situated in the area and that there is a need to go into the safety aspect.
President Kovind expressed grief over death of the workers in the incident.
“The death of workers in a fire accident at a godown in Secunderabad, Telangana is a tragedy beyond words. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. I wish speedy recovery for the injured,” Kovind said on twitter.
Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
“Pained by the loss of lives due to a tragic fire in Bhoiguda, Hyderabad. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of the deceased: PM,” a tweet from Modi’s official Twitter handle said.
Chief Minister Rao condoled the death of the workers and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the families of each of the deceased. He asked Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to make arrangements to send the bodies to their native places in Bihar.
Kumar, who visited the spot, said immediate steps would be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
State Home Minister Mohd Mahmood Ali and animal husbandry minister T Srinivas Yadav also visited the spot.
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