Fire kills 4, smoke 3 at south Mumbai highrise

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 15 Desember 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Seven people died and an equal number were injured in the fire that broke out in Mont Blanc building at Kemps Corner on Friday night. Two of the seven deceased were residents, three were domestic helps, besides a liftman and a security guard.

Bodies of film producer and diamond merchant Dinesh Gandhi, his domestic helps Chotu and Bhuralal Muneria, were found were charred beyond recognition in the Gandhis' flat 1202. The bodies of Gandhi's wife Devyani and liftman Ajay Singh were found in the lift on the 12th floor. Some eyewitnesses said Devyani was in the building compound when she saw the fire on the 12th floor and had rushed up with the liftman to warn her husband, but probably never made it out of the lift which got stuck due to the fire.

The bodies of domestic helps Sumishra Tejwan and Chittaranjan Das were found on the 26th and 16th floors respectively. Doctors said all three domestic helps had suffocated to death. Doctors at Nair and JJ Hospitals, where the post-mortem were conducted, found heavy concentrations of toxic gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the bloodstream of Chotu (who had no burns at all), Das and Tejwan.

The bodies were identified by the deceased's family members by their gold chains and other marks. Gandhi's son Milin was away when the fire began. "He was in a state of shock on Friday night after he tried to enter the building to rescue his elderly parents," said a policeman.

The fire started from flat 1201. The flat had recently been bought and workers were carrying out renovation for the new occupants. Incidentally, the five workers inside the flat survived as they locked themselves up in a room while the fire travelled towards the Gandhis' flat, fuelled by a cylinder blast.

Nandini Halwarsiya (50), who stays on the 15th floor, tried to run upstairs on hearing the explosion. She suffered 20% burns on her hands and was admitted to Breach Candy. "The impact was such that the moment Halwarsiya stepped out of her flat she was hit by the high temperature caused due to the explosion. She rushed back into her flat," police said.

Malabar Hill police are waiting for the fire brigade and the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) reports to know how the fire was triggered. "It is too early to say whether the explosion was due to the cylinder blast or was triggered after a short-circuit. The FSL team took samples from the spot on Saturday. The fire brigade and FSL reports will give us a clear picture," said deputy commissioner of police (zone II) Nisar Tamboli. Police have registered a case of accidental fire.

The fire brigade said the building's internal fire-fighting system was working, but they will inspect the building for any fire safety violations and will also ask the ward office to probe whether the renovation work in flat 1201 was authorized.

Fire brigade officials said the building's fire safety apparatus only stopped functioning after the electric pump in the basement malfunctioned as water entered it. "The basement was flooded with water that we used to douse the fire and it entered the pump, due to which it stopped working. Generally all pumps are in the basement, after this incident we will have to rethink whether to ask buildings to install pumps in an open place instead of the basement," said a senior fire official.

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