New Delhi fire kills 27 people, 2 police arrested

NEW DELHI (AP) — Police have arrested two owners of a company that manufactures and sells security cameras, according to reports of a massive fire in a four-story commercial building in the Indian capital. Fire officials said Saturday.

Police charged him with attempted murder, which did not constitute murder, and conspiracy to commit murder, which could be sentenced to life in prison or 10 years in prison.

Delhi Fire Department Director Atul Garg said the building did not have a fire department permit and was not equipped with fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers.

Garg said the fire started on the first floor of the building on Friday evening and quickly spread to other areas where large quantities of cardboard used for packaging and combustible plastic materials used to make equipment, including security cameras, were stored.

At least 50 people have been rescued from buildings, mainly shops, fire officials said. The building is located in the Mundka district of western New Delhi.

Fires are common in India, where building codes and safety codes are often ignored by builders and residents. In 2019, a fire from a short circuit engulfed a building in New Delhi, killing 43 people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences for the loss of life and wished for a speedy recovery of the 12 wounded in hospital.

Harish Goel and his brother Varun Goe were initially detained for questioning and later arrested, India’s Press Trust reported, citing police officer Samer Sharma.

Local resident Sachin Garg said the building had only one exit door and that those trapped there had a hard time escaping quickly because of unrequited love. “An ambulance was called, and the fire department used a crane bucket to rescue people,” he said.

Another resident, Satbir Lakra, said several men and women broke glass walls and jumped to the ground floor.

The building is located in a congested area with industrial facilities, and it took a while for fire engines to get to the scene, Garg said.

27 fire engines put out the flames after more than five hours of fighting. The fire control room said the search operation continued overnight to find anyone trapped in the wreckage.

The cause of the fire was not immediately identified and is under investigation.

Garg said there are conflicting reports. Some said the fire was caused by an air conditioner explosion, while others said the fire was caused by an electrical short.


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