Nine persons were killed-- three of them jumping to death in panic--after a major fire broke out in the Carlton Towers, a multi-storeyed commercial complex, in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Three persons died due to fatal injuries after jumping from the top floors of the eight-storeyed building while six lost their lives due to severe burns and asphyxiation, sources at nearby Manipal Hospital where they were rushed said. The fire was brought under control and the building evacuated nearly two hours after it broke out at around 4.30 PM.
At least 70 persons were injured. Of them, 22 persons are critical in the Intensive Care Unit while some were being treated in the casualty ward, the sources said.
The fire in the building housing software companies and commercial establishments, was caused by a spark in the lift service cable, a senior fire official said.
"The fire began in a lift service cable in the second floor and spread through the duct with smoke engulfing the remaining floors," Erappa, fire chief officer told PTI.
"More than the fire it was the smoke that caused panic", he said.
As a thick blanket of smoke engulfed the building, several persons scampered out of their offices, broke window panes in desperation and jumped out.
Scores of panic stricken people screamed for help and 15 fire tenders which rushed to the spot, managed to rescue some of them.
"We have received around 50-60 patients. Some of the persons are seriously ill. We are evaluating the patients' health," Manipal hospital COO Nagendra Swamy told PTI.
One girl clad in a blue salwar kameez landed on the roof of the portico after jumping from the sixth floor and then slipped to the ground. Her condition was not immediately known.
One woman even tried to use her saree as a rope to get out.
Nagendraswamy told reporters that among the dead were three women and six men. Seven were brought dead.
The deaths were caused due to suffocation and injuries, he said.
Of the 59 undergoing treatment, 19 were in the ICU.
The sixth and seventh floors of the multi-storeyed building located on the busy Old Airport Road in Domlur area were the worst affected.
A case would be registered against the building owner and inquiry held to ascertain whether all norms have been followed, Assistant Commissioner of Police M R Pujar said.
The deceased have been identified as Savitha, Benzi Kumar, Rajesh Subramanyam, Surabhi Joshi, Purohit Madan Singh, Sunil Iyer, Fayaz Pasha, Akhil Uday and Sidddarth Padam.
The building is home to some restaurants and several offices.
Karnataka Home Minister Dr V S Acharya said an investigation would be ordered into the safety aspects of the building, including the fire safety amid reports there were some violation of building norms. He described the fire as "a shocking tragedy".
The fire at the start of the peak hour caused a huge traffic jam on a two kms stretch. Huge crowds had also gathered outside the building.
It was chaos as some of those trapped inside tried to escape by breaking window panes, lowering ropes and many shouting aloud for help.
Many struggled to breathe clean air, covering their mouth and nose with handkerchief, eye witnesses said. Nearly 100 fire brigade personnel battled the blaze, an official said. PTI