At least 43 people died on Sunday in a devastating fire that broke out in a building in a crowded grains market area in central New Delhi.
Most of the dead are thought to be migrant labourers from Bihar state, the youngest victim is thought to be 13. Sixteen people injured in the blaze were being treated at area hospitals. Most were suffering from smoke inhalation. Witnesses said the fire took hold so quickly that there was little time for 50 labourers sleeping on the third floor of a factory building to make their escape. It took 25 fire trucks to extinguish the blaze. The firefighters needed three hours. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the fire as "horrific." The owner of the building was arrested. It is thought the factory was operating illegally, the building did not have fire clearance.
While fires are common in India, Saturday’s blaze is one of the deadliest in Delhi for years. “There was only one staircase to climb up the building. There was smoke and toxic gas all around and fire personnel faced much difficulty in fighting out the blaze,” fire officials described difficulty accessing the building. Visiting the site of the fire, Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said. “I have ordered a magisterial inquiry into it. Compensation of Rs 10 lakh [£10,870] each will be given to families of those dead and Rs 1 lakh to each of those injured. The expense of medical treatment of those injured will be borne by the government.”