Shillong: A day after an elderly couple died in a massive fire that gutted a 117-year-old church in Shillong, Meghalaya on Sunday morning, the residents of Qualapatty expressed their anger over the fire services department and said that had the fire brigade arrived even half an hour earlier, two precious lives could have been saved.
“When the fire broke out, I called a police officer to inform the fire services. He said that he had informed them and was waiting. Even after half an hour, they did not turn up. So, the delay in the fire service is the reason behind two lives being lost in the fire tragedy,” said Martamlin Pyrbot, head of the locality.
The locality head said that he will soon hold a meeting and may even write to the chief minister if required to raise the issue.
“I have called upon the secretary of the locality to convene a meeting and to discuss what we can do to avoid such incident. We have to check people from the fire service so that they attend to their duties immediately after getting a phone call. If we have to write to the chief minister, we will do that too,” added Pyrbot.
Police officials, however, said the delay was caused due to the narrow road leading to the church and that every effort was made to try and douse the fire.
Meanwhile, on Monday, chief minister Conrad K Sangma visited the site and paid his condolences to the families.
“It was saddening to see what had happened, an unfortunate incident and definitely a great loss not only to the church but also to the city of Shillong and Meghalaya as a whole. So our prayers are with all the members of the church and members of the bereaved family,” said Sangma.
The 117-year-old church of God in Qualapatty, Shillong was brought to ashes after a massive fire broke out during the wee hours of Sunday. The untoward incident led to the loss of two lives of an elderly married couple living close to the church.
The lives lost in this incident were an elderly couple and also members of the church, Reliable Laloo, 75 and Tiameren Basaiawmoit, 55. According to sources in the family, the couple had come down when the fire took place but had later gone back up to the top floor to try and save some of the belongings. The source said that it may have been due to suffocation that the couple couldn’t make it out alive.